Winners and finalists
Oko Cup: The Best Alternative to Single Use Cups
Oko is an all-inclusive solution for reducing plastic waste in the hot drinks industry comprised of an innovative cup and washing system combination. Oko delivers the convenience and cost-efficiency of market dominating single use methods combined with the sustainability benefits of reusable alternatives.
The Oko Cup is a cleverly designed reusable cup, created to make reusable cup maintenance easier, quicker and cleaner. The Oko Clean is a first of its kind rapid-washing facility based on industry standard clean-in-place principles.
Oko Cups are intended to be sold via service station retailers to beverage consumers, and also directly to consumers via online channels. The Oko Clean system is provided to service stations on a rental model, providing them with a competitive edge in both sustainability and convenience.
I developed the idea for Oko while assisting my daughter with a school science project, which was on the top of the environment. She came across some facts about ocean pollution and the problem of single use plastics. One fact that shocked the two of us was that every minute a garbage truck of waste is being dumped in the ocean, the equivalent of 8 million tonnes per year. My daughter asked me how we could just keep doing this. It shocked me to know that I didn’t have an answer.
In our live, there comes a time when we face a challenge. We have two choices; we can hope someone else will look after it, or we can meet the challenge head on, own the problem and work to create the change we want to see. For my daughter, and for myself, I felt I needed to take the second option.
Realising it would be impossible to solve all the single use plastic problems at once, I focused on one area. Choosing single use coffee cups was easy because I was part of the problem – like hundreds of millions of others, every day I took a plastic lined cup with a plastic lid at least three times a day and enjoyed my coffee.
So, I decided to switch to a reusable cup. However, several issues quickly became apparent. Keeping the cup clean was a real problem – I didn’t always have time to do it at the office kitchen sink, and there was no way to wash it “on the go” at service stations. The cups didn’t make it easy either – there are areas under the lids and around seals that are difficult to clean and take a lot of time and effort to do so. Now I could understand why, even with generous discounts, global coffee chains have failed to get reusable cup usage above 5%. Using a reusable cup was a pain, and that is why most people don’t use them.
This was a great realisation because now I knew we didn’t need to preach to people to change to reusable cups – we need to make it easy for people to use them.
I have since developed Oko by using every spare minute in evenings and weekends endlessly talking to people about their issues, iterating design ideas and creating prototypes. The easy to wash cup and automatic wash system makes the job of keeping your reusable cup clean both easy and fast. Through addressing these challenges, we are removing the barriers to widespread adoption of reusable cups in our everyday lives, making beverage consumption cleaner, greener and easier.