CupCOA: Transforming Theobroma cacao (Trinitario Cacao) Pod Husks as Potential Eco-Friendly Cups

CupCOA aims to harness the potential of cacao pod husks into an eco-friendly cup as a possible alternative for disposable cups.

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  • Yes, I fulfill all of the eligibility criteria.

Initiative's representative name

Railore Jamille M. Alea

Initiative's representative date of birth

October 5, 2001

Initiative’s representative gender

  • Woman

Which eligible market are you based in?

  • Philippines

Where are you making a difference?

Philippines, Batangas, Batangas City

Website or social media url(s)

When was your organisation founded?

August / 2019

Focus areas

  • Helping people adapt to technologies of the future
  • Financial skills and capability

Project Stage

  • Pilot (have done first proof of concept)
  • Start-Up (first few activities have happened)
  • Growth (have moved past the very first activities; working towards the next level of expansion)

Yearly Budget: How much capital do you need to accomplish your proposed project?

  • Less than $1k

Organisation Type

  • Educational Institute

1. Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this to succeed

One day, my groupmates and I were tasked to think of a topic for our research subject. The ideas that came from our head were either too simple or too complex. After a while of brainstorming, we opted to just searching for inspiration and potential topics from the internet. One of us came across a site saying that paper cups were not entirely eco-friendly since it has a plastic lining inside to prevent the paper cup from being soaked by the beverage. An idea came into our heads. What if we made a completely eco-friendly cup? Hence, we decided to create a cup that is truly eco-friendly. We decided on cacao pod husks as the main component since it is an unnecessary by-product of the cacao industry that is currently booming in our country.

2. The problem: What problem surrounding employability or financial capability are you helping to solve?

This research plans to solve waste problems regarding the negative effects of disposable cups to the environment. Disposable cups used today are thrown haphazardly in the streets or in the ocean, posing a threat to the environment as well as the ecosystem. It also aims to address the limited use of cacao pod husks in the cacao industry. Cacao pod husks make about roughly 70% of the fruit's total weight. After harvesting, it is thrown away or used

3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

Through CupCOA, we can solve the issue about disposable cups by proposing an alternative eco-friendly cup as well as harnessing the potential of cacao pod husks. We will collect cacao pod husks from various affiliated cacao farms and turn them into CupCOA. Afterwards, we plan on expanding this study, introducing our product to potential investors, and eventually proceed to advertise it in the market. We intend on collaborating with different cacao farms, beginning with local farms before extending nationwide and taking advantage of the Philippine chocolate's rise in the global market. Essentially, CupCOA aims to become a greener option in terms of disposable cups to be used by food industries as well as local consumers and food vendors.

4. How are you innovating or using unique approaches to solving the problem?

Since our product can be used by a wide variety of people, we first plan on enhancing the limits of CupCOA before it eventually reaches the market. We studied the properties of cacao pod husks as well as the biopolymers and the coating used in its production, determining which is the best to be used, while still being mindful of the environment, for this product. We also asked a few cacao farmers about how they use cacao pod husks, which was to either throw it away or use it as fertilizer since for them it has no further use. As researchers, we took advantage of this problem and concocted a study aiming to utilize cacao pod husks while also addressing the waste problem involving disposable cups.

7. Marketplace: Who else is addressing the same problem? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Many cacao industries are faced with the problem of dealing with their industries' main by-product, the cacao pod husks. On the other hand, the environment is currently suffering from the detrimental effects of disposable cups. Although there are many existing eco-friendly cups such as: paper cups, corn plastic cups, and many others , CupCOA aims to address both issues by utilizing unused cacao pod husks and turning them into potential eco-friendly cups.

8. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

During the experimental stage of our research, we have helped several cacao farms by collecting their cacao pod husk "wastes" and turning them into eco-friendly cups. In terms of business, we plan on eventually expanding our product to the market after consulting market analysts. Through this method, we intend on creating an impact in the business and social world by empowering the public to use eco-friendly products.

9. Financial Sustainability Plan. Can you tell us about you plan to fund your project and how that plan will be sustainable in the short, medium, and long term?

Our short term funding plan intends on finding possible investors and reach out to several cacao farms to support our study. For the medium and long term funding, since CupCOA is a product that is marketable to food industries and can be used by the general public, we plan on introducing it to the market and use its profits to fund this project.

10. Team

Currently, we are a 4-man team including myself along with my three other classmates; Ashley Nicole Arcega, Ried Arcillas, and Princess Allysa Banta. We are all senior high school students attending the same university. We are also supervised by our research instructor Dr. Jed Tolentino.

Help Us Support Diversity! Are you a member of an under-served , under-represented, or marginalized group in your country of residence? (yes/no) (this question is optional – if you choose to fill it out, the response will not be shared with your fellow contestants)

  • This does not apply to me

If you selected “yes” to any of the categories above, please explain how being a member of this group has impacted you and your work?


How did you hear about this challenge?

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