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Green Your LifeRecycling

Betacup Encourages Collaboration to Create a Sustainable Coffee Cup

Betacup Challenge recruits designers to create a sustainable coffee cup

You have a chance to help create the perfect, sustainable coffee cup and win a piece of $20,000 through the Betacup Challenge.

[social_buttons] Most of us enjoy a cup of java in the morning. And if you are anything like me, you typically get your coffee on the go. I make an effort to bring my coffee tumbler, but let’s be honest… I don’t always remember it, or I forget to wash it. Nothing ruins a great cup of coffee like day-old, crusty coffee residue at the bottom of my tumbler. Laden with guilt, I leave the coffee shop with a disposable, paper cup knowing all too well it will end up in some landfill somewhere.

Unfortunately, many coffee drinkers don’t realize that 58 billion paper coffee cups are thrown away, unrecycled, each year. Also, 20 million trees are cut down and approximately 12 billion gallons of water is used in the process of manufacturing paper cups. These fun facts are brought to you by the fine folks at Betacup who have decided to step up and do something about it.

Toby Daniels, Shaun Abrahamson and Marcel Botha have created the Betacup Challenge out of the desire and need to “reduce the number of non-recyclable cups thrown away every year by creating a more convenient alternative to the reusable coffee cup.” (My dirty, coffee-encrusted tumbler thanks you.) The Betacup founders understand that many minds are better than one so they have invited all you along for the ride.

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What can you do? Well, the Betacup Challenge is a public contest so register to submit ideas, comment on their forum, rate others’ ideas and engage in discussions with the Betacup community and contest jurors. Some things to consider when submitting your awesome sustainable cup idea:

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 Challenge differs from most contest formats, because it is open. When you submit an idea, your ideas are open to the public for comment and ratings.

But the joy of collaboration doesn’t stop there. Starbucks has joined in the pursuit of the perfect, sustainable to-go cup. As the world’s largest coffee shop chain, Starbucks recognizes the waste it creates with its 2.7 billion paper coffee cups every year. The coffee giant will provide $20,000 in cash prizes for the most innovative ideas submitted during the Betacup Challenge.

Also, Core77 is the Betacup Challenge media sponsor and will be featuring some of their favorite submissions on their blog every couple of weeks.

So get your creative juices flowing… here is an opportunity to be part of the solution. Submissions are now being accepted until June 1, 2010. Good luck! And until then, please remember to use and wash out your coffee tumbler.

Follow Cindy Tickle on Twitter @ethicalbiz
Image Credit: Robert Banh via flickr under a CC license




5 comments
  1. Cindy Tickle

    @m.smallwood – I love the “melting” coffee cup. Funny! But I doubt many businesses would risk the potential lawsuits.

    @Justin – I agree 100%. There are many reusable coffee cups, tumblers on the market. It’s consumer behavior that so difficult to change. Unfortunately, we currently live in a on-the-go, convenience-based culture. Good luck with the challenge. I look forward to the results!

  2. Justin @thebetacup

    @m.smallwood: Some submissions have involved biodegradable cups, made out of everything from coffee grounds to ice cream cones. Cup integrity is definitely something to consider!

    @Cindy – “I make an effort to bring my coffee tumbler, but let’s be honest… I don’t always remember it, or I forget to wash it.”

    This is one of the big problems that we face with reusable coffee cups. The products are out there, but the adoption rate is low for precisely the reasons you outlined. The answer to the disposable cup problem is probably bigger than just creating a better reusable cup: it’s going to involve some more sweeping methods to change consumer behavior or change the whole coffee-drinking infrastructure.

  3. m.smallwood

    Does it have to be sustainable? Why not bio-degradable? Can’t you make a cup out of the same paper as biodegradable toilet paper only stronger? Might have to drink fast, but the coffe stays hotter and the tendency to not finish a full cup decreases if you know your cup’s gonna melt after 30.625 mins.!! =))

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