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How to Establish a Returnable Cup Scheme

20 November 2023

Circular&Co and City to Sea have launched a guide to establishing a successful returnable cup scheme for facilities managers

The document is a blueprint for FMs looking to implement returnable cup schemes at scale.

In the UK, an estimated 2.5 – 5 billion single-use cups are used every year, and just 1 per cent of these cups are recycled. The WWF forecasts that without urgent action, by 2030 the UK will use 33 per cent more cups than it did in 2020. 

“The future is returnable - Taking a circular approach to hot drinks” draws on the expertise of Circular&Co, who design and manufacture a range of circular reusables and returnables, leading the transition away from single-use forever. The guide also partners with City to Sea, an environmental charity and social enterprise on a mission to prevent plastic pollution. 

The free guide includes a full breakdown of what any organisation will need to consider when looking to get a returnable cups scheme off the ground including:


  1. Choosing the right system & cup  
  2. Logistics and infrastructure 
  3. The level of technology involved  
  4. Behaviour change and marketing recommendations 
  5. Case studies & first hand experiences from other organisations


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. And 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.”

Picture: a photograph of a person standing by a bicycle holding a reusable coffee cup. Image Credit: Circular&Co 

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 20 November 2023


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