KUPKrush Single Use Paper Cup Circular Economy Recycling
This idea is a part of Circular Innovation City Challenge
The best way to understand the objectives and business model of the KUPKrush initiative is by watching this live video presentation that describes the problem, the business model and the solution;
Making our Cities "Smart" means adopting more efficient management of services and turning cities into enablers of innovation, economic growth, and well-being. We can only do this by breaking the current vertical data silos, building solutions that provide a holistic picture of what is going on in the city. This project merges data from multiple verticals to provide an open-source, end-to-end, federated public data commons for recycling.
Deposit schemes throughout the world have demonstrated the power of these programs to reduce post consumer waste. However, without vibrant markets for the waste materials that are collected, circular economies cannot thrive.
As the General Manager of Solid Waste Services for the City of Toronto, Matt Keliher, told CTV News, "Every material that is recyclable has to have someone who wants to purchase it or it’s not recyclable." - the KUPKrush project inverts the current waste management business model by focusing on creating a vibrant market for the waste cup feedstock for the benefit of the entire ecosystem. In the process we create massive amounts of useful data that are part of an open data commons and which belongs to the City and the community for complete transparency and insight. This inversion of the traditional business model is truly revolutionary.
Few food retailers are willing to fund the additional costs of purchasing single-use cups that incorporate paper stock with high levels of recycled fibre - refillable cup programs have generally only achieved modest acceptance and are not even possible with the existence of the Covid pandemic.
So-called Latte-Levies or extra charges for single-use paper cups do nothing to ensure that the used cups are collected so that they do not end up in landfill. These "taxes" hurt the consumer, the retailer and don't reduce the amount of waste destined for our shrinking landfill capacity.
The KUPKrush initiative uses the latest Distributed Ledger Technology embodied in the fee-less IOTA cryptocurrency to make each cup its own economic agent through the concept of a Digital Twin, rewarding every actor in the circular economy with a micro-reward as the cup moves through the recycling chain until it is ultimately recycled into a new cup. With no miners and no transaction fees this technology, designed for the Internet of Things is environmentally friendly due to the absence of the wasteful Proof of Work requirements of blockchains such as Bitcoin or Ethereum and without the need for "miners" or "validators" there are no fees which makes the required micro-transactions possible in a way that older blockchain-based systems cannot match.
The system is funded through a value transfer (approximately 25 cents) that is transferred to the cup's unique Digital Twin account at the point of sale with rewards then paid out to every player as the cup moves through the circular economy from consumer, to waste-hauler, to pulp mill and finally back to the cup manufacturer, resulting in lower costs for recycled cup stock and therefore for cups containing high levels of post-consumer waste. It's important to note that rewards are only paid out to participants in the network as each cup moves to the next step in the circular economy. By acting "selfishly" each participant guarantees the movement of materials along the "reverse supply chain" towards their ultimate recycling back into new subsidized cupstock that can be sold to retailers for less than cups made from virgin fibre.
Data is collected at every stage, tracking the effectiveness of the program at the individual cup level, providing complete transparency via an Open-Source, Public Recycling Data Commons that will benefit all players. Fee-less Smart-Contracts release the embedded deposits for any cups not entering the recycling system within a predetermined period (nominally set at 30 days) with those funds being transferred directly to the municipality where the waste was created, and thus paying for the cleanup of the environmental waste created by the retail sale of the original product.
The collected data is self-auditing, immutable and open to public scrutiny directly via the public ledger or via APIs to ensure compatibility with Open Data Standards and Open Government initiatives. The collected data can be used as an input stream in data marketplaces and will be developed to comply with data standards being developed for the Industrial Internet of Things by groups like the Open Management Group (OMG) and the Eclipse Foundation.
Examples of the type of data that can be collected and shared in realtime by this system can seen in this slide image, however the data we can collect is by no means limited to just what is imagined here and will be enhanced and extended in cooperation and collaboration with the ecosystem partners.
The entire system is fully self-funding, generating significant revenues for cities (to the extent that adoption is below 100%) and will completely pay for itself within 12-24 months. This solution is only possible with a Distributed Ledger solution such as IOTA which does not rely on miners or transaction fees and is therefore free to operate for both micro-value and data-only transactions, unlike blockchain-based systems.
If your innovation is very technical, please explain it in layman’s terms
At Point of Sale, a cup of coffee or tea (or other hot/cold beverage sold in a paper cup) is scanned and a deposit of 25 cents/eurocents is transferred to the account of the cup via a QR Code printed on the bottom of the cup.
After drinking the contents, the cup's QR Code is scanned by a KUPKrush machine which ingests it and refunds a portion of the deposit to the consumer and the retailer. As the cup moves along the recycling chain the balance of the deposit is paid out to the various players.
Who are your competitors, and how do you differ from them?
Current "Deposit/Refund" schemes require massive investments in auditing and provide no transparency around what is actually happening to the items within the system or the proportion of items that are recycled. The KUPKrush solution is a fully digital and decentralized solution that provides an immutable public ledger showing the efficiency of the system at every stage - recycling rates by brand and store, proportion of cups that are recycled by consumers and their movement through the system.
Who are your customers or target group, and how are you planning to reach/engage them?
Retail Coffee Chains and vendors of hot/cold drinks. Retailers are unlikely to adopt this technology without Extended Producer Responsibility legislation from Cities looking to reduce the burden of consumer waste on the municipal and environmental landscape.
Today there is little demand for paper cup waste by pulp mills and cup manufacturers and so most cups end up in landfill. By using the cup deposits to subsidize pulp mills and cup makers we can create lucrative markets for used cup stock.
What are your most significant barriers for getting your innovation into the market?
Getting forward looking cities to see that using new technologies to solve old problems, we can turn a burden in to an opportunity to generate significant new revenue sources and provide significant sources of lucrative data that is accurate, and transparent while being completely privacy compliant.
This solution is fully self-funding & sustainable and turns the existing business models around waste upside down. The principles of this program can be extended to other areas of waste management.
How does your innovation relate to our Innovation Challenge?
The KUPKrush platform creates a self-funding, circular economy for paper cups and cup stock reducing the pressures on municipalities and mitigating the significant environmental burden of virgin cup-stock creation and use. It will have a big impact on consumer behavior and reduce the environmental waste that has attracted significant publicity in recent years. The technology that makes it all possible is available today and it can be rapidly implemented and scaled.
What positive impact will it have for cities and their citizens? Use specific data and numbers where possible
It is estimated that 600 Billion Single Use cups are sent to landfill globally each year and these numbers are growing. This project will be a significant Corporate Social Responsibility win for participating retailers and a significant source of revenue for municipalities who currently have to fund the disposal of cup refuse from taxes.
Our proposed pilot project using just 60 million cups in a major urban centre will fund the design and manufacture of 100 KUPkrush units and is anticipated to generate nearly $6 million or €6 million for the participating municipality assuming only a 20% participation rate. The system generates revenue for education and marketing and is completely self-funding.
The amount of data collected, that becomes part of a municipal data commons is simply staggering and provides self-auditing immutable records about its efficiencies and results. KUPkrush machines can additionally collect air quality and other metrics at no additional cost.
Who would be relevant collaboration partners in helping your innovation succeed?
Municipal Waste Management Departments, Retail Coffee Chains, Fast Food Restaurants, Pulp Mills, Cup Manufacturers, Waste Aggregators etc.
We envision a collaborative governance board consisting of an alliance of all players in the ecosystem as well as members of the public and city/regional government representatives (represented by the entity named FISC in the presentation) to determine the best way to make the system work for everyone.
What year was the innovation initiated?
Country of registration/origin?
Where is your current funding coming from and how long will it support activities?
The project will be crowd-funded by issuing Digital Assets as non-fungible tokens (NFTs) on the IOTA Tangle. Investors will buy the rights to future revenue streams generated by fractional ownership in KUPKrush units which should be cash-flow positive soon after deployment. We expect to receive grant funding from a variety of sources if KUPKrush is adopted and implemented in any Smart City initiatives.
The IOTA Foundation has also issued a Letter of Support for the project (see Public files).
What are your future plans for sales or funding?
The project is currently at the prototyping stage awaiting interest from one or more Smart City initiatives. Initial unit design has begun and alpha coding of the software platform and the associated applications has started - it will be relatively simple to ramp up this process as soon as we get interest from one or more participating cities and get feedback on the scope and speed required for an implementation.
What is the setup of your organisation and management/board?
The bIOTAsphere is currently established primarily as a think-tank with a core team of passionate executives. Once we obtain interest from one or more Smart Cities we will move forward with design and deployment of the machines in partnership with the waste-management departments of the cities that are interested in piloting the initiative.