What is Cups-as-a-Service?

The Circular Coffee Project has pioneered the Cups-as-a-Service concept. The idea transforms cups in the ‘out-of-home’ sector from consumable items to reusable items. In other words, what we once considered ‘products’ are becoming ‘services’ with the aim to have positive environmental outcomes. Xerox have the oldest example of product-service systems, leasing their printing machines and charging ‘per copy’, but recent examples such as Mud-Jeans and Swap Fiets in the Netherlands have brought new understanding to the concept. Our Cups-as-a-Service system is based on research conducted within the Copernicus Institute for Sustainable Development.


What is the cup made from?

The cup is made from coffee waste and a bio-polymer resin. It’s dishwasher safe, BPA free and can be used countless times. It is inevitable that products break though, so in case of breakage, please dispose of it in the organic/green waste bin where it is 100% biodegradable under EU regulations.


What is ‘Tu-Go’?

‘Tu-Go’ is the system of reuse for our cups with the cafes we work with. Everywhere you see the ‘Tu-Go’ sticker, will be a café that accepts the ‘Tu-Go’ cup. Just pop in to get your coffee as normal but choose to take your coffee ‘Tu-Go’. For frequent use, download the app.tu-go.club to register your cup each time. Then when you’re done, return the cup to a participating location to earn your rewards. If saving the environment isn’t a big enough incentive for you then you will also receive points for FREE coffee/tea each time you return a cup. Win-Win!


What’s wrong with recycling?

Recycling is ineffective, progress is slow and using compostable cups just compounds the problem of waste collection, transportation, separation and treatment. Despite progress towards recycling and ‘closing the loop’, it is estimated that of the 14% of plastics collected for recycling, just 2% are successfully closed-loop recycled, repurposed and reused into the same or similar applications (Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2018; van Sebille, 2018). While recent research suggests that the UK, for example, have moved from 0.25% to 4% paper/plastic cup recycling (frugalpac, 2018); we believe a better solution is not to make them at all.


What’s wrong with reusable cups?

Reusables like KeepCup and ECoffee are doing great things but research conducted by the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development suggests that coffee drinkers struggle to carry cups around with them all day because '“they take up room” or “they’re dirty”. Not only this but these cups are made using virgin materials and plastics, sourced from all over the world. Recent research also suggests that many bamboo variants are proven to have “very high content” of melamine and are “not biodegradable”.

The Circular Coffee Project uses a biodegradable and bio-based polymer, does not contain melamine and are proud to source all of our materials from within the European Union


Why Circular?

The Circular Economy is cited as the kingpin of 21st century economics and builds on the theory of resource maximisation and waste minimisation. We are taking these principles and turning them into action, with a circular solution that repurposes coffee waste and brings cups back to the café where the coffee waste originates. With your help, we can deliver this circular solution whereby cups remain within a network of cafes and constantly ‘circulate’ from one user to another.