The SmartCup: A Study in IoT and Environmental Sustainability

Benny Nguyen & Eirik Hellstrøm Finnsen

Student thesis: Master thesis


The consumption of disposable cups has permeated all sectors of society and particularly the cafes and coffee shops industry. To highlight the severity of disposable cups, the annual global consumption of paper cups is estimated to be between 250 and 300 billion. To produce such amounts, millions of trees have to be cut down, billion gallons of water are needed to process the wood and a lot of energy is required for manufacturing. Whereas single-use cups afford the convenience of immediate disposal, a common misconception is that paper cups and composable cups are easily recyclable. In reality, most lead to increased landfilling and negative environmental impacts due to insufficient collection and ineffective recycling infrastructures.
Although efforts have been made to improve the material composition and afford better recycling options, the problem still persists. To address the problem differently, this thesis explored how the application of IoT might contribute to more sustainable alternatives and encourage more sustainable practices as a replacement to the consumption and disposal of single-use cups.
As a result, an IoT concept has been developed and evaluated with a small group of participants. Based on the evaluation of the concept, it was found that the integration of IoT features did indeed contribute to a better sustainable alternative. However, not because it was declared green, but because of increased value and the ability to personalize the object, which afforded continued re-use.
As the evaluation is based on an initial phase of conceptualization, findings should not be taken as a final indication that these would reflect in real life settings. Rather the findings should be viewed as contributions within the area of research and incentives to further research into sustainable alternatives through the application of Internet of Things.

EducationsMSc in Business Administration and E-business, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2020
Number of pages286
SupervisorsWeifang Wu