Sat in the café of the University Library in the historic and beautiful Utrecht City Centre, members of the Young Innovators 2017/18 honours programme sipped on cappuccinos and latte and pondered what projects could make impact. The team represented a broad mix of experience and education, from economics and operations management, earth sciences and bio-inspired innovation. Sipping our coffee is when it hit us- why not do something with coffee! We saw it as such a waste that our love affair with coffee is so short lived, for a plant that takes years to grow and travels thousands of miles.

Through months of pain, sweat and tears (and lots of coffee) we learned of the opportunities for using coffee as a material but also the greater challenge that the production-use-disposal of disposable cups bring to our society and the environment. Through our research, we discovered that not only disposable cups pose a problem but we also identified that reusable cups for ownership also pose a problem. Why? because carrying a dirty cup around all day, that takes up valuable bag space is not ideal, and people end up forgetting or collecting cups at home. We began discussing, brainstorming, researching and designing a system for reusable cups that displaced disposables for people like us- a person who lives and works ‘on-the-go’.

Understanding consumer behaviour and the value of collective action is a key component to the solution. We received support through Climate-Kic and found a partner willing to let us test the solution and are now working hard to refine our ideas before launching.

Thanks for reading :)

J