Sustainable Cup Challenge

Create a sustainable to-go cup for the City of New York.

Closure Report
By the DO School 501c3

The Challenge

Every day in New York City, millions of plastic and paper drink cups are used and thrown away – posing a serious problem to the environment and waste management alike. The goal of the Sustainable Cup Challenge was to create an innovative and sustainable to-go cup, as well as a related infrastructure and campaign. A variety of topics were covered, including the environmental impact of materials and packaging, recycling systems, as well as branding and campaigning.

The course was managed by Scott Francisco, founder of Pilot Projects Design Collective, with the support of a group of dedicated professionals. These included Ron Gonen, New York City’s deputy commissioner of sanitation, recycling, and sustainability, Roya Kazemi of GreeNYC, Michele Grossman of Waste Management Sustainability Services, and Charles Best, Founder of Donorschoose.org.


Fellows worked to identify and understand their target groups and stakeholders, and conducted research into available best-practices regarding packaging materials and design. Based on these learning experiences, the Fellows then brainstormed, identified, and tested their ideas. Focus lay on finding a viable business solution that is innovative and has a real impact on the city.

By answering to the Challenge, Fellows have learned hands-on how to turn an idea into action and learned at the same time how to turn their own venture idea into a viable social venture plan that is ready for implementation.


The Challenge was given by the DO School in collaboration with New York City’s Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability.

Content supporters were American Friends of Bucerius and PLASTICITY.

The Challenge was made possible by Newman’s Own Foundation and the Dekeyser&Friends Foundation.

The DO School pop-up campus in New York is located in The New York Media Center in DUMBO, Brooklyn, a co-working space and exhibition venue designed to connect the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs.

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