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Circular Returnable Coffee Cups

What is a Returnable?

A returnable is an item of food or drink packaging that is designed to be returned to a business for multiple re-use, eliminating the need for single-use packaging.

People in the UK get through at least 2.5 billion disposable cups each year. Switching to a returnable cup eliminates billions of cups from landfill.

Single-use coffee cups are soon to be driven out of use, whether through legislation, climate or consumer pressures. This means very soon 95% of the population who are still using single use will need a workable cost-effective, hassle-free solution.

Commercially viable returnable solutions that can deliver significant environmental, cost, and CSR benefits exist and are ready to go.

Returnable Cup System

At Circular&Co. we’re supporting local communities, groups and businesses to make circularity accessible for everyone. We can help organisations create impactful ‘Returnable Cup Schemes’ where customers can loan a reusable cup for a small deposit, usually complete with their favourite beverage at a discounted rate. Once used, their cup can be returned and refunded or kept in exchange for the original deposit.

Our Case Studies

During the first year of introduction we ran over 50 trials and pilots returnable systems across the UK and Europe. We learned a lot along the way, publishing a Returnable Blueprint in partnership with City to Sea in late 2023. Our most successful systems include the Eden Project and Blenheim Palace. Both are fully live and ongoing. Multiple low tech systems are also live across the UK including our local roastery, Yallah Coffee.

What is a Returnable Cup System?

The Circular Returnable Cup is designed to replace outdated single-use coffee cups. Just like the milk bottles of old, a returnable cup means single-use paper cups are replaced by a much more sustainable option. Your local café will serve your take away beverage in a reusable cup which can be returned and commercially washed, ready for another serving.

At Circular&Co. we firmly believe in taking practical steps to make a real impact with Circular Design as the driving force. We believe in a circular world, where the products we use every day are designed to never reach landfill or pollute the environment. By creating tomorrow’s products from today’s waste, ensuring they last for as long as possible and are fully recyclable we can solve the three key environmental issues of our time; overconsumption, carbon emissions, and pollution.

Why does the world need a Returnable Cup System?

94% of consumers are still not actively engaging with reusables, the direct ownership model has had limited success. Returnable is more ‘to hand’, convenient and in touch with consumer needs. If you don’t bring a cup, we have a reusable one for you. 

Yes, there are unmissable market trends, consumer shifts and environmental time pressures driving the transition from single use to reusables but the key driver is legislation.Across the globe governments have already or about to impose legislation seeking to ban or tax single use items including paper cups. Soon it will against the law or simply uneconomical to offer beverages in a single use solution.

Why choose the Circular Returnable Cup?

The Circular Returnable Cup has been specifically designed for commercial deposit return schemes, following two years of development and over 12 months of field testing in a variety of pilots. The attention to detail makes the transition from single to returnable as pain free as possible. Everything has been considered and tested. Get in touch to see how Returnables can work for your business.

Circular Returnable Cup Features 500 wash cycles, durable, recyclable

Carbon Savings of Returnable Cups

Single-use paper cup (PE Lining)

61 grams of Carbon Emissions from each and every one.

1. Frugalpac, Coffee Cup Study, April 2020
House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee – The price of plastic: ending the toll of plastic waste: Third Report of Session 2022–23 as written evidence to Parliament

Circular Returnable Cup (rPP)

72 grams of Carbon Emissions from one cup, which can be used over 1000 times. Carbon savings after 2 uses!

2. University of Exeter, Environment and Sustainability Institute, Prof Xiaoyu Yan ; Carbon Footprint of the Circular Returnable Cup: A Preliminary Life Cycle Assessment, January 2023 (available on request).

Circular Returnable Cup (PP)

158 grams of Carbon Emissions from one cup, which can be used over 1000 times. Carbon savings after 3 uses!

2. University of Exeter, Environment and Sustainability Institute, Prof Xiaoyu Yan ; Carbon Footprint of the Circular Returnable Cup: A Preliminary Life Cycle Assessment, January 2023 (available on request).

Pioneering 100% Recycled Content

US & Asia markets (FDA approved) are supplied in 100% food grade recycled PP (rPP). This makes the Circular Returnable Cup a fully circular product, making huge carbon savings for our industry. FSA European and UK markets are not currently able to use rPP due to pending regulatory approval. As such, the Circular Returnable Cup is supplied to these markets made from 100% recyclable, food grade virgin PP.

Highly Durable, Built to Last

A fundamental aspect of the Circular Design approach is to design a product to last as long as possible. Our Returnable Cup is designed to last over 1000 commercial wash cycles. It is tough and ready for whatever you can throw at it.

100% ‘Real World’ Recyclable

Everything can technically be recycled but our products are designed to fit and conform to the ‘real world’ restrictions of the recycling infrastructure that exists today and across the globe.

Contact our Returnables team for further information and a quote.

See how Returnables can work for your Business

We believe the future is Returnable. If you think your business could benefit from implementing a returnables system, please contact our returnables team to see how we can support you with Returnable Cups.

We can provide a range of printing and laser marking options to ensure a bespoke and recognisable branded product for your customer.