Blueprint released for running a successful returnable cup scheme

Environmental campaigners City to Sea and reusable brand Circular&Co have produced a blueprint to set up and run a successful returnable cup scheme.

'The future is returnable – taking a circular approach to hot drinks’ report was published in November 2023 by City to Sea and Circular&Co and provides a blueprint for any organisation looking to provide an alternative solution to disposable, single-use take-away coffee cups and explore circular, returnable systems. 

The report shares insights from more than 20 industry experts, reuse brands and business, including expertise from Ecosurety’s Policy Manager, Louisa Goodfellow. Collaboration is essential for returnable systems to scale and become normalised and to empower and enable businesses to make a meaningful impact in the transition to reuse systems. 

Louisa commented that ‘Whilst UK reuse and refill packaging policy is still in its infancy, developing Extended Producer Responsibility legislation shows signs that regulatory incentivisation may become more apparent in the coming years.. Alongside self-managed consumer waste, producers managing ‘reusable packaging waste from an operation re-use system’ could offset these tonnages in the future, and further exemptions may also be considered.’ 

Insights from returnable cup schemes 

The report shares first-hand experiences and key learnings from various refill projects, including the Ecosurety Exploration Fund supported Bristol Refill Return Cup Scheme, launched in June 2023, which enabled customers to borrow and return a cup at participating coffee shops across the city.  

A core focus for the project was the testing of behaviour change tactics and messaging. City to Sea ran focus groups at different stages to gain insights into initial perceptions, concerns, barriers and motivations. The initial findings were used to design the pilot scheme, informing everything from the name, messaging, branding and process. 

The report now takes a closer look at the pilot’s performance, and covers in detail: 

  • Choosing the right cup 
  • Logistics and infrastructure 
  • Finances 
  • Behaviour change 
  • Marketing and communications 
  • Measuring impact 
  • Key takeaways 

Download the full report here and discover practical examples to help you understand what might work best for your organisation.

Written by Louise Shellard Published 08/11/2023 Topics Ecosurety
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