Borrow Cup

Borrow Cup

Ready to reduce single-use? Introducing Borrow Cup - a collaborative returnable cup scheme for Glasgow, with a lower environmental impact than single-use cups after three uses.*

We’re launching Borrow Cup in Glasgow in September 2024, to demonstrate how a collaborative returnable cup scheme can become environmentally, commercially and operationally viable. We’re aiming to achieve this through:

  • Scale: A pioneering collaboration with independent cafes and major coffee chains, to create a critical mass of participating stores and a high density of return points.
  • User experience: A simple user journey with minimal friction points (no apps or sign-ups), designed based on behavioural insights, to improve convenience and appeal.
  • Measurement: Cup usage and reporting data will measure uptake, returns and environmental impact, to determine how the system can become environmentally and financially viable.

Borrow Cup is a project led by Hubbub, with the scheme operated by local reuse systems provider, Reposit.

The problem

How many drinks in single-use cups do you have in a year? Well, in Glasgow 95 million single-use cups are used every year, making up 30% of waste in on-street bins. Personal reusable cups are a solution to this, but are often forgotten at home or inconvenient to carry with us. This is where a returnable cup system comes in, allowing people to borrow and return a reusable cup from a cafe, bar or restaurant.

When a returnable cup system works, it can have a lower environmental impact than single-use cups, because producing and recycling or disposing of single-use cups can create more carbon emissions than using reusable cups over and over again.

So how does it work?

Get on board with Borrow Cup

Why get involved?

  • Reduce waste and demonstrate your commitment to reducing your environmental impact.
  • Increase your footfall and improve customer satisfaction and loyalty.
  • Gain recognition for being part of a pioneering project, leading the way for reusable packaging schemes in the UK.
  • An operationally simple reuse system, designed to minimise staff time and processes, with an on-hand support team.

If you’re a brand or independent cafe and want to be part of Borrow Cup, get in touch!

Why is the scheme Borrow Cup branded?

We’ve created Borrow Cup as a shared brand to demonstrate the collaborative nature of the scheme and ensure communications are clear and consistent, improving customer recognition and understanding of the scheme. Using a standardised cup also makes the scheme operationally simpler to deliver, improving commercial viability and allowing the scheme to easily expand to other businesses.

Who can join the scheme?

If you’re a business in Glasgow that sells drinks in single-use cups, we’d love to hear from you! We’re also interested to hear from Glasgow businesses that sell food in single-use packaging, or businesses based outside of Glasgow, to explore how the scheme can expand in future.

Why is there a £1 deposit for the cup?

Customers will pay a £1 deposit to borrow the cup, as this incentivises them to return the cup and receive their £1 back. In our surveying, 63% said they were willing to pay at least a £1 deposit, which dropped to 27% who were willing at least £2. By having the deposit at £1, this keeps the cost barrier relatively low, which should lead to higher uptake.

Is the Borrow Cup scheme better for the environment than single-use cups?

The environmental impact of the scheme will be measured throughout to understand how it compares to the impact of single-use cups, in terms of raw materials, washing, transport and end-of-life processes. The environmental impact of the scheme has been minimised through decisions such as:

  • Using a lightweight plastic cup, which has a lower environmental impact to produce than alternatives such as steel or aluminium.
  • Using an e-vehicle for the collection and delivery of the cups.
  • Using Reposit’s washing facility in Wishaw, 30 minutes outside of Glasgow, to reduce transport distances.

*Reposit’s carbon modelling predicts that a Borrow Cup needs to be used 3 times for it to have a lower environmental impact than single-use cups. After three months of Borrow Cup being live, the environmental impact of the scheme will be assessed by an independent party and these results will be shared publicly.

Are you a business that wants to collaborate?

If you have a challenge to share, or want to get involved with our work, we'd love to hear from you.

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