betacup - $10,000 prize for innovative ideas for coffee cup waste reduction

58 billion paper coffee cups are thrown away, unrecycled, each year. The betacup challenge is an effort to reduce this waste.

betacup are inviting people to submit ideas but also to comment and rate others’ ideas, and engage in discussions with other betacup community members and contest jurors.

Thought I'd post this as there are a lot of smart thinking, clever, innovative people here at instructables. Hopefully one of us (or several?) can come up with something positive.

Betacup from the betacup on Vimeo.

You should consider:
Waste Reduction – how does the Idea reduce the number of non-recycled coffee cups thrown away each year?
Resources Required – what resources will it take to implement the Idea? (money, energy, water, materials, time, etc)
New or Existing Capabilities – does the Idea use existing technologies or approaches? If not, what must be created or invented to implement the Idea?
The Whole experience – Don’t forget the importance of the “whole experience”. Alternatives to paper cups are available today but they are not being widely used. How effective is the Idea likely to be in achieving its goal?

A different contest format (hint: we’re encouraging collaboration)
The betacup differs from most contest formats, because it is open. We are using jovoto, so when you submit an idea, your ideas are open to the public for comment and ratings.

betacup via Treehugger

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GASSYPOOTS5 years ago
a recyclable metal coffee cup that is insulated on the inside so you cant burn your hand and also its reusable because its made of metal
ElvenChild5 years ago
Ummm... Don't drink coffee?
reusable mulit sized easy lid, people want sippy cups and you always loose your lids. Lids with the coffee shop logo on them even paper lids that can only be used once in multi sizes would cut down on the waste.
ALiveOne7 years ago
not for nothing, but I use a PLA cup at work everyday which is then composted along with all the rest of my food containers, silverware, etc...  hasn't this problem been solved?  adoption takes time people...
localtalent7 years ago
The betacup contest is now open!  Lots of great ideas in here, submit them to the community for a chance at the prize money - see http://www.thebetacup.com for signup details.  Even if you don't have an idea, please help rate and discuss concepts submitted by others!
localtalent7 years ago
 I'm a member of the betacup team - it's great to see so many people thinking about this problem!

First, @Jayefuu - Thanks for posting this up!

@paganwonder - Convenience is almost certainly a driving factor.  Have you asked any of your coworkers about it?  Some people have probably made a conscious choice to use disposables: in our discussions with people, some have said they really don't like washing them, some felt that disposables were more 'clean', etc.  Others have never really considered why they aren't using reusable mugs, they just fell into the habit.

@comodore, @shiftlock and others suggesting biodegradable products - They're certainly better than straight plastic, but the landfill design in many communities doesn't allow products to degrade.  The trash is packed too tightly to allow oxygen and micro-organisms in to break down the garbage.  See here.  

@mikeasaurus - the blended materials, particularly wax liners or sprayed-on wax insulation, make recycling extremely difficult.  Most US communities don't have the recycling infrastructure necessary to process much beyond the basics.

@robbtoberfest - have you seen the dishmaker?

@kryptonite, @Kiteman, and @Masaries7 - these are fantastic ideas.  I think the solution is going to be a combination of incentive, social pressure, and product design.  Some clever concepts here - please don't forget to register and submit them when the contest opens on April 1!
1/3 of my job consists of picking up litter, and changing trash bags, so I see a lot of garbage, and what people are throwing away. The University where I work has a recycling program across the campus. It is gradually spreading. But there are two main problems, 90%of the trash in non-recycling cans is recyclable, and there is too much focus on recycling and not enough on reducing. The only way to get away from disposable anything (or everything)is to not dispose of things. There must be less stuff made in the first place, and an attitude of constant reduction of manufacturing as much as possible. It will be hard to do, but it is the only real solution. All other solutions are just another excuse to make things.
Paper coffee cups are a problem, I admit, but they can be just thrown on the ground, and they will biodegrade within a few weeks, especially if buried directly in the ground (not inside a plastic bag). Sadly, though the lids will never biodgrade. If these were made of paper or cardboard too, then at least that would be a start. Providing fewer cups is a good option, but more emphasis needs to be placed on providing alternatives. Someone should definitely conduct a study to see how many cups are used on average per day in your average store. I go to convenience stores quite a bit, and there are usually more cups there than I need. Part of the problem we face is a society that thinks more equals better. We could probably provide half as many cups in the first place, and still sell the same amount of coffee, but it wouldn't look the same. If stores stocked more reusable cups for sale, then maybe people would buy them, or bring their own. Another sickening problem, worse than coffeee cups is plastic stirrers...they are an item that gets produced, then packaged,  and shipped to stores, only to be used for less than a second, before being discarded. What a waste. I never use them. It is an insult to our planet. Convenience will bury us in trash. The best bet is to make your coffee at home. You can usually have about 20 oz of coffee for about 10c per cup. That easily makes up for a few extra minutes a day to make a cup in the morning, then wash it out at the end of the day!
Johenix7 years ago
The collapsable cup idea has some good and bad points.
When you said collapsable cup the first thing I thought of was the little telescoping tumbler made of plastic rings (old ones were aluminum) found at drug, camping and novelty stores, that were usable but always on the verge of collapse and a wet surprise.
Then I thought of this: Why not make them of memory metal like NiTiNOL?
When you are done flatten it and put it in your pocket. When you need a cup run hot water (or steam) over it and it turns back into a cup.
The main problem I see is price!!!!
Johenix Johenix7 years ago
I thought more about the problem today. How about a cup like a bellows bottle (constant diameter, variable length, made by blow molding) supported by a NiTiNOL frame.
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