Innovation That Matters

Contest taps the crowds for a redesigned coffee cup

Nonprofit & Social Cause

That something needs to be done about the ubiquitous but wasteful paper coffee cup seems to be a matter of fairly widespread agreement. We’ve seen the development of myriad reusable replacements and—more recently—reusable lids, but now a new effort is tapping the crowds for further ideas. With sponsorship from none other than Starbucks itself, the mission driving the Betacup project is to find the best ideas to eliminate paper cup consumption and then help bring these ideas to life. It’s not just another reusable cup design that’s being sought, however—rather, “think beyond just the vessel for carrying coffee, and develop a way to cause behavior change at a massive scale,” the effort’s creators urge. Toward that end, Betacup launched an international contest on April 1 by which creative thinkers all over the world can submit and rate new ideas for a sustainable and convenient alternative. Submissions can be made in the form of image, audio or video files, as long as they’re posted on the Jovoto-based collaborative platform by June 1. Participants can also collect karma for ratings and comments during the rating period, which extends through June 15. Entries will be judged on a variety of qualities, including how they reduce waste, what resources they require, new or existing capabilities required for implementation, and the overall user experience. A total of USD 20,000 in prizes will be awarded to the developers of the winning ideas, including USD 10,000 for the top choice of Betacup’s board of advisors; the remainder will be split evenly among the top 5 community favourites. Some 58 billion paper coffee cups get thrown out each year in North America alone, according to Betacup, wasting the 20 million trees and 12 billion gallons of water required to make them. If the crowds can help design and name new products, resolve disputes and brainstorm national economic solutions, to name just a few, who better to solve this—or any other—prickly problem…? Spotted by: Katherine Noyes



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