Single-use cups are a bit of a necessary evil for the specialty coffee world. For an industry whose life blood is grab and go, takeway cups are of vital importance. One solution to this problem has been the reusable cup. With reusables, customers can take agency in the amount of waste their coffee habit produces, and cafes can implement programs like Huskee Swap, where customers bring back the cup the next time they visit and receive their drink in a replacement cup. And now, a new brand is offering a “tech-enabled” addition to the cup swap canon. CauliCup makes fully reusable and recyclable cups that used app-based tracking technology to make sure they stay in circulation.
As reported by Beverage Daily, the new cups are the product of Cauli, a UK-based manufacturer of a variety of reusable takeaway items, including bowls and lids for to-go food. And they are adding cups to that line. Each cup is injection molded using 100% polypropylene, “a fully recyclable material.” Once a cup or bowl is done being used, they are returned to a CauliKiosk, where users scan the QR code on the item before depositing it in the kiosk. The returned cups and dishware then gets picked up and cleaned before being sent back to partner retail locations that have signed on to be part of Cauli.
Customers wanting to take part in the exchange program download the free app, which helps keep track of the items they have essentially rented out. For each piece of servingware—either cup or box—the user puts down a £1 deposit, which gets returned to them if they bring the item back to a kiosk within seven days (otherwise a £5 fee is applied). To incentivize the program, Cauli gives users loyalty points for each time they successfully return an item. The points than then be redeemed for rewards and discounts at participating retailers.
Like with all reusable/swap programs, CauliCup is only as successful as those who buy into it. If no one bothers returning the cups, the system falls flat. It’s nonetheless a worthwhile endeavor if it means getting fewer cups to landfills each year. And with the points component rewarding use, it incentivizes more than just those looking to do good to take part. Whatever it takes to stem the tide, I’m here for it.
Zac Cadwalader is the managing editor at Sprudge Media Network and a staff writer based in Dallas. Read more Zac Cadwalader on Sprudge.