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Bees+Pineapple+Butterflies=Yogurtcup?

LefttoRight:KaylaMurphy,TaylorMcClintic,BecaParra

Ourgoalforthisprojectwastominimizefoodwasteandpackagingwaste.Weplanned
todothisbycreatinganewpackagingdesignforaneverydayfood:Yogurt.Atthestart
wewantedtofindawaytosolvepackaginganissuewesawasinherentlyevil.
Howeverwesoonlearnedthatpackingingeneralisn'ttoblameforalloftheissuesour
foodsystemhas,ifanythingitwastheanswer.Awelldesignedpackagemadeof
sustainable,environmentallyfriendlymaterialcouldaidinresolvinganumberofissues.
Wenoticedyogurtcupswereofteninconvenientlyshaped,makingithardforthe
consumertogeteverythingoutofthecup.Asaresultthecupisthrownawaywith
perfectlygoodfoodstillinsideofit.Itmayseemlikeonlyasmallamountoffoodis
wastedbydoingthis,andthatthatsmallamountoffoodcouldn'tpossiblymatterinthe
grandschemeofthings,butitdoes.

Scoping
Ourscopingprocessbeganwithadesiretocreatepackagingthatwasgoodfor
theenvironment.Wewerequicklydrawntostyrofoamassomethingtoreplacedueto
itsnumerousanddeadlyenvironmentalimpacts.Styrofoamdoesntreallyever
decomposecausingittositinlandfillstakingupspace.Styrofoamdoesntdegradefor1
millionyearsormorewhichissubstantiallylongerthanotherresourcessuchas:plastic
bagswhichcantakeanywherefrom20to1,000yearsorevendisposablediapersthat
cantakeupto500years.Thosearethematerialsthatarethetwobeforestyrofoamand
theydontevencomeclosetothetimeittakesforstyrofoamtodecompose.Wewanted
tofindawaytomakethewidelyusedpackagingbetter,findsomethingthatcouldbean
insulator,durable,lightweight,easytoproduceandbiodegradableorsustainable.We
alsohadthedesiretomakesomethingthatcouldpotentiallybeusedinSubSaharan
Africaandotherdesolateplaceswheremajorityoftheirfoodislosttospoilagebecause
ofalackofabilitytoinsulatethatfoodsothatitmaybekeptfresh.

Webegantoresearchdifferentanimalsandplantsthatcouldhelpustoserve
ourpurposes.Weweretakentopagesaboutanimalsandplantslivingincold
environmentsbecausetheyinsulatethemselves.Someanimalswelookedatwere
polarbears,cariboubecauseoftheirlayerofdownfurtokeepthemwarmand
insulated,wealsofoundsomeplantsthatcreateablanketofsortstokeepthingswarm.
Wecontinuedtoresearchandbegantorealizethatwewerelookingatatopicthat
couldbevastlybeneficialbutmayhavebeentoolargeforthreehighschooljuniorsto
tackle.Whilestyrofoamisamaterialthatneedsbeeliminateditissomethingthatwill
takealotoftimeandmoneytocreateanalternativesoitwasveryfaroutofourreach.
Wesatdowntogetherandbegantothinkaboutwhatwereallywantedtoachieve:
eliminatingwaste.Thattopicbeingverybroadweneededtonarrowitdownfurther.
Whatpackagingusesalotofpackagingorleadstoalotofwaste?Wecameupwith
chipbagsandyogurtcups.Wedecidedonyogurtcups.

Wechooseyogurtcupsbecausetheyareoftenshapedinsuchawaythatyou
cantnecessarilygeteverythingoutandthatleadstounnecessarywaste.Alsowith
yogurtbeingasingleservingpackageitleadstomorewaste.Ithasbeenproventhat
thesmallerthepackagethelargerthemixofplasticismakingitthatmuchworseofthe
environment.Oneplasticoftenusediscalledpolyprolinecanbeverychallengingto
recyclecausingtobesimplythrowninthetrashandlefttositinlandfillsmoreoftenthan
not.
Polypropeneisathermoplasticpolymerusedinawidevarietyofapplications
includingpackagingandlabeling,textiles(e.g.,ropes,thermalunderwearandcarpets),
stationery,plasticpartsandreusablecontainersofvarioustypes,laboratoryequipment,
loudspeakers,automotivecomponents,andpolymerbanknotes.Althoughthepolymer

iswidelyusedandisveryversatileitcoulduseimprovementorreplacementmuchlike
mostoftheplasticsusedallovertheworld.
Wedecidedthatwewouldneedtoredesign
theshapeandmaterialtoreducewasteonbothsidesofthespectrum.

Yogurtcupsandothersingleservingpackagesareimportanttoconsider
replacingformanyreasonsoneis:Theenergythatgoesintopackagingmakesupjust
10%ofthetotalenergythatgoesintoproducing,transporting,storingandpreparing
food.Whenpackagingpreventsfoodwasteevenalittle,itcanhaveamajorpositive
impactontheenvironment."andalsoFoodleftbehindinjarsandbottlesaccountsfora
surprisingamountofwaste.OnesolutionistheLiquiGlideketchupbottlecoating,
developedatMIT.Whileitmightseemtobejustaconvenience,thispackaging
innovationtoohasapositiveenvironmentalimpact.PaulButler,anindependent
consultantwhospecializesinfoodwasteandsustainablepackaging,estimatesthatfive
tosevenpercentofviscousfoodproductsaretypicallyleftinemptycontainers,even
afterscraping.Theharmtotheenvironmentofthatwaste,Butlersays,iseasilygreater
thanthenegativeimpactofthepackagingitself.
Sizeandmaterialaretwoofthe
biggestfactorsforre
cyclability:ingeneral,thesmallerapackageandthegreateritsmix
ofmaterials,thelessrecyclableitis.Whileconsumersandbusinessesmaythinkthat
sleek,recyclablecontainersaresustainable,expertsnotethatsingleservingfoods,
includingyogurtandcoffeecups,areespeciallyproblematic.Theirsmallsizeandin
thecaseofyogurtcups,difficulttorecycleplastictendtomakethematoughsellfor
recyclers.

Oncewenarroweditdowntoyogurtcupswehadtodecidewhatwasimportant,
asIpreviouslysaid,weneededanewshapeandmaterial.Weknewtheshapeneeded
tobeeasytoaccesswithaspoonandnothaveplacesthatthingscouldgetstuck.For
thematerialweneededsomethingthatwouldbehydrophobic,oleophobic,
biodegradableorsustainableandcosteffectivetoproduce.Therecyclabilityisvery
importantbecauseoverall,Americansrecycleatthelowrateof34.5%andrecycle
plasticpackagingattheevenlowerrateof14%.Sothemajorityofthatfoodpackaging
isendingupinlandfills,oronthestreetastrash,whereitmayeventuallygetsweptinto
theocean.There,ourwrappersandcansandcupsbecomeamuchbiggerproblem
a
directthreat
tomarinelifethatmayingestitanddie.

Findingamaterialthatcouldbeusedforourpackagingwasdificult.Intheendwecame
upempty.WehadexhaustedseveraloptionslikePET,
(PolyethyleneTerephthalate
recyle#1)atfirstseemedlikeaviablesource,butuponfurtherdiggingwefound
otherwise.PETisoneofthemostcommonlyusedplastics,itswhatmostplasticbottles
usedforholdingbeverages(likewater,soda,juice,etc.),containersusedforpackaging

food(likepeanutbutter,saladdressings,oils,etc.),householdcleanersandcosmetics
aremadeof.ItdoesnotcontainBPAorPhthalates.Thistypeofplasticisalso
recyclable,butonlyabout25%ofitisrecycledintheUS.Whenit'srecycledtheplastic
isshreddedreusedtomakeamultitudeofnewproducts.However,thereareseveral
downsidestothisplastic.Forinstance,AlthoughdoesnotcontainBPAorPhthalates,it
hasbeenknowtoleaktoxicchemicalsifleftintheheatforalongperiodoftime.In
additiontothat,althoughit'srecyclableItisintendedforsingleuseapplications
repeateduseincreasestheriskofleachingandbacterialgrowth.PETplasticisdifficult
todecontaminate,andpropercleaningrequiresharmfulchemicals.Polyethylene
terephthalatesmayleachcarcinogens.(eartheasy.com)Whatoncewasourfront
runnerwassoonoffthelist.Thispatternedcontinuedaswesearched,ifitseemedgood
itprobablyhadsometoxicordangerousprocessorchemicalhiddenintheprocess,or
wantsdurableenough,orinsulated,or,likemostofthebestoptionswecouldfind,
unapprovedbytheFDA.Althoughwecameupfruitlessthissearchfortheperfect
materialtaughtusalotaboutwhatkindofchemicalsareinorpackaginganditseffects
ontheenvironment.Knowledgethatwecankeepinmindinwhenitcomestobuying
products.

Scopingforuswasacomplexprocessbutitendedupleadingusintoaterritory
thatwehadntconsideredyet.Hadwenotspentthetimewedidwewouldprobablystill
betryingtotackletheissueofstyrofoam.Wewereluckythatwewereledtoaplace
thatwewereabletochangefocuswithoutlosingallofourpastresearchandwork.The
scopingprocessthatbeganwithalargewebofpossibilitiesturnedintoonenarrowed
downtopicthatwebelievecouldreallyhelptheenvironment.Welearnedquiteabit
consideringthatwechangedourtopicwhichIbelievewillhelpushaveaprojectthat
coversmanydifferentaspectsofthepackaging.

Nature's10UnifyingPatterns

Outofnature's10unifyingpatternswechosetohaveourproductfocusonNature's10
patterns
:
Thepatternsfromnaturewechosetoapplytoourtopicare:
Naturerecyclesallmaterials.
Natureuseschemistryandmaterialsthataresafeforlivingbeings.
Natureusesshapetodeterminefunctionality.

Natureuseschemistryandmaterialsthataresafeforlivingbeings
Thiswasaconceptthatwekeptinmindduringourmaterialresearch.We
wantedtomakesurethewhatevertypeofmaterialweendupusingissafe.Forawhile
PEThadbeenoneofthematerialswewereconsideringbecausetheresearchwehad
donethusfarsaidit'sgreatforrecyclingandreusing,itevencameuponlistsofthe
mostrecyclableandreusablematerials.Thenwelearnedoftheharshchemicalsthat
havetobeusedonitinorderforittoberescuedandthatitleakstoxicsubstances
whenexposedtoheatforlongperiodsoftime.Thiswentagainstourcriteriaforour
productaswellasthisrule.Findingamaterialthatwasrecyclableorbiodegradable
withouttheuseofharshchemicalsissomethingthatwefeltwasimportantnotonlyfor
thisproject,butalsofortheenvironment.Itsalmostoxymoronictohaveaproductthat
boastitsenvironmentallyfriendlyqualitieslikerecyclability,yetthatveryproductuses
harshanddangerouschemicalsthatnotonlyhurttheenvironment,butalsoconsumers.
Whilelookingintobiodegradableandrecyclablematerialsthatcouldbeusedwehit
somemajorroadblocks.Wecouldn'tfindamaterialthatwaschemicallysafe.Almost
everymateriallookedgoodatfirstbutcontainedamajorflawliketheuseoftoxic
chemicalssomewhereintheprocessofitscreationorrecycling

Natureusesshapetodeterminefunctionality.
Theshapeoftheyogurtcupisoneofthemostimportantcomponentsofour
product.Theexteriorshapeisahexagonalprism,thisallowsforthecupstotessellate
togethersnugly.Thiswillsavespaceduringtransportandstorage.Theinsideofthe
cupisinspiredbythepitcherplant/bromeliadswatercollectionsystem.Itsinterioris
curvedsoalltheyogurtwillrundownthesideofthecupandintothecenter.This
meanslessyogurtwillendupbeingtossedoutwhentheusedcan'treachitorscrapeit
offthesides.Anotherpartofthedesignthathelpsreducefoodwasteistheangles/
corners.Thecupcontainsno90degreeangles,minimizingthelikelihoodoffoodgetting
stuckinthecornersofthecup,furtherreducingfoodwaste.

Naturerecyclesallmaterials.
Somethingthatwasimportanttousfromthebeginningoftheprojectwas
recyclability.Wewantedwhateverweusedtomakeourproducttohavealowimpact
ontheenvironmentbybeingattheleastrecyclable,ifnotbiodegradable.Thisiswhat
leadustoresearchonplastics,andwhatthenumbersmean.Throughthiswelearneda
lotabouttherecyclabilityofsomeproducts.

Thenumberonacontainermeansalot.Ittellsyouiftheitemcanberecycled
andifso,where.Whilethenumberofaproductmayberecyclable,thatdoesn'tmean
youcanjusttossitintherecyclingafteryou'redonewithit.Sometypesofplasticshave

tobetakendirectlytoarecyclingplantthattreats/processesmaterialswiththat
number.Andsometimesit'sabitoutoftheway.Thesamegoesforcompostablethings
likeutensils.Mostoftentheyhavetobetakentoacommercialcompostingplant,which
arehardtocomeby.Anotherreasonpeopledon'trecycleisiftheydon'tknowwhere
somethingisrecyclable,theyarelikelytojusttossitinthetrash.

Throughresearchwealsolearnedthatabout85%ofplasticsarenotrecycledinthe
U.S.oftenthingsthatcanberecycledendupinthetrash,orworsetheocean.This
issuecouldbehelpedbyutilizingmorebiodegradablematerials,decreasingthenumber
ofanimalsthatdiefromingestingplasticproductsthathavebeenneglected.The
percentofplasticthatisrecycledcanberaisedbybettermarkingpackagesthatare
recyclableassuch.Peopleoftendon'tknowwhethersomethingisrecyclableandoften
justthrowitawayratherthantryingtofigureitout.Ifpackageswereclearlylabeledas
recyclable,peoplewouldbemorelikelytodisposeofitproperlyespeciallyifthe
packingfeaturesacoolandeyecatchingdesignthatengagestheconsumer,and
highlightsitsrecyclability

Natureuseschemistryandmaterialsthataresafeforlivingbeings.
Thiswasaconceptthatwekeptinmindduringourmaterialresearch.We
wantedtomakesurethewhatevertypeofmaterialweendupusingissafe.Forawhile
PEThadbeenoneofthematerialswewereconsideringbecausetheresearchwehad
donethusfarsaidit'sgreatforrecyclingandreusing,itevencameuponlistsofthe
mostrecyclableandreusablematerials.Thenwelearnedoftheharshchemicalsthat
havetobeusedonitinorderforittoberescuedandthatitleakstoxicsubstances
whenexposedtoheatforlongperiodsoftime.Thiswentagainstourcriteriaforour
productaswellasthisrule.Findingamaterialthatwasrecyclableorbiodegradable
withouttheuseofharshchemicalsissomethingthatwefeltwasimportantnotonlyfor
thisproject,butalsofortheenvironment.Itsalmostoxymoronictohaveaproductthat
boastitsenvironmentallyfriendlyqualitieslikerecyclability,yetthatveryproductuses
harshanddangerouschemicalsthatnotonlyhurttheenvironment,butalsoconsumers.
Whilelookingintobiodegradableandrecyclablematerialsthatcouldbeusedwehit
somemajorroadblocks.Wecouldn'tfindamaterialthatwaschemicallysafe.Almost
everymateriallookedgoodatfirstbutcontainedamajorflawliketheuseoftoxic
chemicalssomewhereintheprocessofitscreationorrecycling

Inspiration
Butterflies:
Butterflieshavetinyoverlappingscalesontheirwings.Thesescalesare
coveredinporousasymmetricridges.Theseridgescreateahydrophobicsurface,

meaningthesurfacecreatedbytheoverlappingscalesrepelswater.Theridgesrepel
waterbydecreasingtheamountofcontactithaswiththesurface,preventingitfrom
flatteningandformingperfectsphericaldropletsofwaterthateasilyrolloffofthewing.
It'saneffectivemethodthatrequiresnoexertionofenergyorchemicalrelease.Itsa
completelyselfsustainedwaytocreateawaterproofsurface.Inadditiontorepelling
wateritalsokeepsthewingsclean,dirtonthewingisremovedbythewaterdroplets
thatrolloff.Thescalesalsoprovidepigmentationandcolorofthewings.

Wewantedourdesigntobehydrophobic,meaningitrepelswater.Thiswould
createanonsticksurfacethatwouldcauseyogurttorunrightdownthesidesofour
cup.Wewantedtomimicthescalesofthebutterflieswingstoreducetheamountof
foodthatiswastedandthrownoutbecauseit'sunreachable.Thehydrophobic
propertiesofthewingsareafairlyrecentdiscoveryandhavebeendeemedoneofthe
mosthydrophobicsurfaces,makingitoneofthebestcandidatesforourcupsinterior.

Pineapples,Bromeliads,andPitcherPlants:
Pineapplesarepartofthebromeliad
family.Typesofplantswhoseleavesarestructuredinamannerthatallowsforoptimal
waterflowtothecenteroftheplant.Thewaterrunsdowntheleavesandendsupinthe
centeroftheplant,whichisoftenreferredtoasawatertank.

Bees:
Beesusehexagonaltessellationsinthedesignofhivewalls.Thehexagons
nestletogethersnuglyleavingnowastedspace.Iftheshapesdidnottessellate
togetherperfectlyitwouldtakeextraeffortandmaterialtopatchtheholesinorderto
createastablewallconfiguration.Thereareonly3shapesthatfittogetherperfectly
(witheachother)onaflatplane:equilateraltriangles,Squaresrectangles,and
hexagons.Allothershapesleavegapsofemptyspace.

BothbeesandPlantshelpedusdesigntheshapeofourcup.Theinterioris
similartoPitcherplantsandbromeliads.wecreatedandangledcurvethatwould
encouragetheyogurttoflowdownthesidesandtothecenterofthecup.TheBees
servedasinspirationfortheexterior.Beesusehexagonsbecauseofthewaytheyfit
togetheraswellashowmuchenergyandmaterialisusedtocreatethedesign.Thatis
whywechosetomaketheexteriorofthecupahexagonalprism,sotransportationand
storageiseasyanddoesn'tleavelotsofspaceemptyspacelikemostofthedesigns
usedforyogurtcupsyouseeinstores.

BusinessCase
Forourproductweplantomakesomethingthathasahexagonalshapesothat
whenitispackagedforshippingittakesuptheleastamountofroom.Thatwouldmake
itsomorecouldfitononetruckandsofewertripshavetobemade,gaswouldbe
savedandtherewouldbesubstantiallylessemissions.Otherthanreducingemissions
andsavingmoneyfortransportcompaniesourdesignwouldhelpyogurtcompaniesto
samespaceandbeabletomovemoreproductsandmakemoremoney.Packaging
thatcanfittogetheranddomorewillhelpeveryonetosavemoneyandreducewaste.

Weplantomakeaplasticthatisthinbutdurablesothatwecanusetheleast
amountofresourcesandsavemoneyandmaterialduringproduction.Wehopethatour
designwouldbenefitmanypeopleandtheenvironmentbyreducingemissionsand
costs.Ourplanwouldcutcostsintransportationandproduction.

Limitations
Someofthelimitationsofourdesignisthatwecouldntfindamaterialthatwould
beasufficientreplacementforpolypropylene,everythingwelookedatwaseithertoo
expensive,impracticalornotFDAapproved.Allthesethingsmakeithardtomakea
successfuldesign.Wespenttimelookingatbutterflywingsandotheranimalsthathave
hydrophobicsurfacesontheirbodiessothatnothingsticks.Wehadluckfindinganimals
thatpossessedthesequalitiesbutnoluckwhenitcametosearchingforaplasticor
materialthatwouldhavethesamequalities.

Wethoughtforatimethatwehadfoundamaterialthatwouldwork,synthetic
butterflywingsthatcouldbeusedforpackagingbutitendedupnotworkingbecauseit
isnotFDAapprovedanditisnotavailableforconsumers,itisstillintesting.Wewere
verylimitedinmaterialsearchanditmadeitsothatwecouldntfinishourdesignas
muchaswewouldhavelikedto.

Wewerealsolimitedbyourabilitytocreateahydrophobicsurface.Welooked
aspatternsandshapesthatwouldleadtoahydrophobicsurfacesuchassharkskin
whichhassmall,microscopicscalesthatrepelanythingthatcouldgetstuck.Thereisa
syntheticversionofsharkskinthathasverysmalldiamondsonthesurfacethatare
ableservethesamepurposeofthesharksscales.Thisisatechnologythatwewould
lovetoemploybutwedonthavetheinformationonhowtomakeamoldorproduce
cupswiththatonthesurface.Wedontknowwhatittakestodevelopandcreatea

yogurtcupsotryingtofindanalternativeisachallengebecausewedonthaveafull
graspofwhatittakestodevelopthecups.

Cost
$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

TeamWork
Asateamweworkedwithequalcontrolduringtheproject:givingourinputson
theresearchanddesignforourcreation.Inthebeginning,weallsharedourideasand
expectationsfortheentireprojectandbeganwithourscopingwherewewereableto
putallourthoughtsononepageandtalkaboutwhatwewantandwhatwedont.We
wouldhavemeetingsinthebeginningofthedaytoseewhereweareatandgivesome
adviceorideasonourworkandthathelpedmakeourworkbetterandbringuscloser.

Thereweretimeswherewehadclashedandhadafewdisagreementsaboutthe
decisionsweweremakingforourdesignandresearchbutasagroupwewerealways
abletotalkaboutitandthenlateragreeonwhatwouldbebestforourdesign.This
projecthasbroughtustogetherandhasmadeusseeeachotherinamoreprofessional
aspect.Wehavetoactlikeadultsandworklikeprofessionalstogetherinordertowork
asateamandhaveagoodproject.Ourteamwasabletoseeeachotherina
professionalscenethatmostofushavenotseenbefore.

Wehavebeenabletocommunicatewitheachotherinawaywhereconflictisavoided
andwecanworkwellthroughoutthetime.Ourhardworkhaspaidoffintheendand
youcanseetheeffortweputintomakingthebestdesign.Thisprojecthasbroughtus
closerasagroupandwehavebeenabletogettoknowalittlebitmoreabouteach
otherinanewperspective.

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