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New Guide launched to help facilities managers establish a successful returnable cup scheme

A new report has been launched which provides a blueprint for introducing and scaling circular systems for hot drinks in the UK. The guide, published by the pioneers of circular design Circular&Co and environmental organisation City to Sea, outlines a blueprint for FMs looking to establish a successful returnable cup scheme.

The future is returnable. Taking a circular approach to hot drinks, supports a new partnership between the two organisations following an explosion of innovation in the UK when it comes to returnable systems.

Drawing on the expertise of over 20 industry experts, leading reuse brands, and businesses, City to Sea and Circular&Co. have created the guide to provide invaluable insights and practical advice for organisations looking to implement returnable cup schemes at scale.

The publication draws upon first hand experiences in the sector, as well as learnings from city-wide initiatives like the Refill Return Cup in Bristol, and the pioneering Shrewsbury Cup, live returnable schemes at Blenheim Palace, to innovative trials run by organisations such as the National Trust and the Eden Project. With further insights from forward-thinking cafes, universities and businesses, the guide aims to empower and enable businesses to make a meaningful impact in the transition to reuse systems.

The guide, which is completely free to download, includes a full breakdown of what any organisation will need to consider when looking to get a returnable cups scheme off the ground including;

  • Choosing the right system & cup
  • Logistics and infrastructure
  • The level of technology involved
  • Behaviour change and marketing recommendations
  • Case studies & first-hand experiences from other organisations

There is a growing urgency to shift away from our disposable single-use culture towards a reusable model. Currently an estimated 2.5 – 5 billion single-use cups are used in the UK every year. Globally, this number rises to a reported 500 billion.

Shockingly, it’s estimated that just 1 per cent of these cups are recycled and the WWF forecasts that without urgent action, by 2030 the UK will use 33 per cent more cups than it did in 2020. The rest enter our waste stream or worse, end up polluting our streets, rivers and oceans. Single-use take-away packaging, including items like coffee cups, are consistently some of the most commonly found polluting items on our beaches and rivers.

Dan Dicker, CEO and Founder of Circular&Co said: “There simply isn’t a need for anything to be single-use in modern society. But for the last four years, collectively as an industry, we have not been able to move the dial past 5-6 per cent of takeaway coffee being consumed in a reusable cup. The fact is, we need a complementary mass market, mass habit-changing, mass engagement solution.

“After nearly two years of returnable development, using our Circular Returnable Cup in multiple global trials, and the in-depth work carried out in this blueprint, we’re now in a position to shape the future. It’s roll out time!”

Jo Morley, Head of Campaigns at City to Sea added: “Over the past 18 months, we’ve seen the launch of a number of returnable cup schemes across the UK – varying in size, delivery mechanism and impact.

“At City to Sea, we’ve had a huge increase in the number of enquiries from the communities and businesses we work with looking for advice and support for how to get started and the most effective way to drive impact, which is what led us to create the blueprint.

 “Businesses can not only affect their carbon footprint through a Returnable Cup scheme due to the elimination of single-use cups from their daily waste stream. However, there is also profound cost savings to be gained, due to not having to spend on, what is essentially a waste stream in the form of single-use cups.”

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