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A disposable plant-based cup.

Photo of Dwight Alexander

Written by

Idea Title

Idea Summary

The Lily is a disposable cup that is made from a Water Lily Pad.

Please include a visual (can be either 2D or 3D) representation/prototype of your concept. (required)

This solution addresses which of the following:

  • Cold Cup Only

How is your concept recoverable?

Lily Pads are a aquatic pond plant and mature much quicker than a tree would. This will make the source quicker to replenish after harvesting. When harvested after its maturity, like the mythological Hydra creature one becomes several. The Lily cup purpose itself is not to be recoverable.

How have you incorporated additional sustainability attributes (beyond recoverability) into your solution?

The leaves of hardy plants are circular in shape with smooth, round edges. These natural characteristics minimize the processing required of the material to get to the forming stage. Also, There is already a waxy cuticle covering their surface. This features aids in the shelf life and storage, protects them from tearing when handling and allows the beverage to roll off the surface so the leaves retain and never absorb.

What regions do you plan to address with your solution (and how will you accomplish this)?

This solution will last as long as the Lily Pad can maintaining its key traits out of the water. An experiment to determine the life expectancy of the Pad usefulness out of the water is key. This will be the deciding factor when determining what regions this solution will address.

What is the current stage of development of your idea?

  • Research & Early Testing

What are the biggest challenges you are facing today? What are existing gaps in your solution?

Producing a viable product that needs to be a very useful solution is the biggest challenge. Gaps needing to be filled are a Business Model Development, Materials and Technical Development, Engineering and Manufacturing, Supply Chain, Sustainability and Recoverability, Waste and Infrastructure, Product / Industrial Design and Prototyping, Branding / Marketing and Storytelling, Growth and Scaling, Legal and Fundraising / Finance team members.

Mentorship Needs (please select up to 3)

  • Materials and Technical Development
  • Engineering and Manufacturing
  • Fundraising / Finance

How did you hear about the Challenge?

  • OpenIDEO announcement email
  • Someone in my network (word of mouth)


Join the conversation:

Photo of Koldun Victor

An ordinary cardboard cup breaks down in the natural environment roughly in a year or thereabout. Approximately how the fallen leaves does, consisting of the same cellulose. In order for the new material for the production of cups to become a cost effective replacement of cardboard, it should decompose order faster, somewhere in a month, maybe two or three. This is at an average temperature of 15 degrees Celsius (according to NASA). But when we pour water near a boiling point, at a temperature of 95 degrees, into such cup , according to the rule of Svante August Arrhenius, all the chemical processes in it, including the self-decay of complex molecules, respectively, accelerate. The minimum acceleration will be somewhere 250 times, and the maximum will be about 65,000 times. That is, for a disposable cup that has been filled for at least an hour, and this is a real situation somewhere on a picnic, there is all the chances to pour out their content on the table at best , at worst, on himself or his electronic devices. Even if this cup was made a few days before that and was stored in a stock in perfect conditions.
Therefore, the question arises - how do you deal with such issue?

Photo of Dwight Alexander

Dear Koldun Victor,
Yes, the waste production rate is a part of the equation to create a cost effective cup but; there is more than just that. A few more factors to consider are the harvesting, manufacturing, and consumption rate, all of which also affects cost. Here is why the Lily would be much! much! more of a better material than a cardboard cup in just those field.

The Lily Pad surpasses the growth rate and matures much faster than a tree; because it’s a plant. This drives the cost of the cup down. Lily Pads are not a sought after material for any other product, meaning it’s more the price will go down further.

The processing needed to make a finished cardboard cup is far more expensive than the processing a Lily Pad would ever need to get to finished Lily. The Lily Pad is almost there; it just needs a little help. But a tree looks nothing like a cardboard cup so, mustn’t there be more processes to get it to a paper cup? Yes, and processes cost money.

Assuming the consumption rate increases based on the population growth, we can only imagine the price of the Lily will go up because of the economics law (Price = Supply and Demand). People who were uprooting massive piles of Lily Pads and tossing them out just to make beaches at their lakefront houses now have a reason to nurture more of them because value came to the Lily Pad. Now Instead of clearing that lake to make the beach, they would become Lily Pad Farmers because it is now another source of income. This incentive will increase the Lily Pad supply driving the cost down and since they populate much faster than a tree it will keeping their value minimal.

Since we have already decreased the cost of the cup before reaching the waste production stage through the other factors; the Lily cup has already proven to be a more cost-effective replacement of a cardboard cup.

The Lily same as the all other disposable cups would first show signs of degradation before failure. The Lily will not pour out your content on the table or on one’s self or their electronic devices if used correctly. After its expiration, it will begin to decompose having served its usefulness time period. Cups are not programmed with timers; they know not when their usefulness time is expired they just act. Even if the expiration date has not passed but signs of failure are apparent, there is no guarantee that the Lily will be safe and effective. If your Lily has/hasn’t expired or is beginning to show signs of a failure, do not use it somewhere on a picnic.

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