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Reuse scheme tackles single-use coffee cups

Words by Smiley Team

Bristol-based environmental charity, City to Sea, and environmental compliance scheme Ecosurety, have announced the launch of the new “Bristol Refill Cup Scheme".

The new project will enable Bristolians to “borrow” a reusable takeaway cup from a café and then return it so it can be used again and again, reducing waste and tackling pollution and littering across the city.

Currently, an estimated 2.5 billion single-use coffee cups are used in the UK a year. 

The scheme will roll out across the city by autumn 2022 as part of City to Sea’s award-winning Refill campaign and app, which will enable residents and visitors to find locations to pick up and drop off their reusable cup.

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New research released by City to Sea to mark World Refill Day found that the cost-of-living crisis is making it harder for consumers to make sustainable purchasing decisions and avoid single-use plastic, despite this still being a big concern for 95% of people surveyed.

City to Sea’s Refill app helps conscious consumers find locations to eat, drink and shop with less plastic. This new innovation however will be the first of its kind to direct people to ‘borrow and return schemes’ through the Refill App.

The Refill campaign started life as a pilot in Bristol back in 2015, when the city was European Green Capital and is now a global phenomenon with activity across the globe from Japan to Chile.   

Jane Martin, Head of Development at City to Sea, said: “By expanding the Refill campaign to help people not only find free drinking water and other locations to refill on the go, our goal is to turn the tide on single-use plastic across the city – helping to keep our streets, parks and iconic harbourside free from pollution.

"The project, launching across Bristol, will act as a pilot to better understand the most effective way to operate the system and engage the public before rolling it out in other major cities across the country in the future."

So, how will it all work?

Retailers across the city will sign up to the scheme, ordering cups at a low-cost subscription basis and will be provided with a stock of the reusable cups. 

When a customer comes in for a coffee, they are given the option to have their coffee in a single-use cup or a reusable cup - with the environmental benefits communicated to the customer.  

The Refill app supports the experience. They scan a QR code on the cup and then the ownership of the cup goes to the customer. The customer uses the Refill app to manage the cup and will be reminded when are where to return the cup. The consumer then returns the cup to participating retailers who scan them back in, wash them and then the cups are used again and again. 

Commenting on the collaboration with City to Sea, Will Ghali, CEO of Ecosurety said: “It is through these collaborations that we will continue to demonstrate our commitment to finding viable and tangible solutions to the challenges that packaging waste poses to the environment."

Inspired to act?

DOWNLOAD: Get involved by downloading the Refill app for free and reducing single-use plastic.

SUPPORT: City to Sea is a nonprofit and uses donations to continue its mission. Find out ways to support them


This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

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