Four students plan to change the way we hold our drinks
The red plastic cup — popular at picnics, parties, and tailgates — troubled Axel Delakowski ’21.
“I thought of all of the cups that are thrown away,” says the biomedical engineering major. “There had to be a more sustainable way.”
He teamed up with three fellow seniors, finance major Thomas Fitzgerald, marketing major Joaquin Garcia, and chem major Jay Lim, to form Team Zero. The team entered the 2021 Mayo Business Plan Competition, wanting to design a replacement for the single-use plastic cups.
Their solution was χ-Cups (pronounced “kai-cups”), a riff on the Greek letter chi and their cup’s primary ingredient, chitin, a substance derived from seafood waste like crab and shrimp shells. The product is renewable, naturally biodegradable, and home-compostable. It also proved to be a winning formula, earning the students the competition’s $30,000 grand prize.
“The diverse backgrounds of our team provided a lot of collective knowledge,” says Garcia.
Next up, the group will investigate methods of mass production and develop plans to market the χ-Cups to college students and distributors who are environmentally conscious.