Ecosurety funded Refill Return Cup Scheme launches in Bristol

Ecosurety's Exploration Fund initiative, Bristol Refill Return Cup Scheme, has launched today, on World Refill Day. 

The scheme, run by environmental group City to Sea, aims to reduce the amount of single-use cups entering Bristol’s waste stream by offering consumers the option to ‘borrow’ a reusable takeaway cup that can be picked up and dropped off at participating coffee shops across the whole city. 

Preventing single-use waste 

Currently, more than 2.5 billion takeaway coffee cups are used and thrown away each year in the UK. That’s an astonishing 10,000 every two minutes. It’s estimated that if the Bristol Refill Return Cup was used by just one in ten residents just once a week, then 46,000 single-use cups would be saved across the city every week – that’s a massive 2.5 million single-use coffee cups a year.   

City to Sea’s Head of Development, Jane Martin commented, “We can’t keep going as we are with park bins overflowing and our Harbourside littered with floating single-use coffee cups. We need to do things differently. And after years of research we are really delighted to be launching our Refill Return Cup that completely eliminates the need to carry a reusable cup with you. Instead, you can pick one of our reusable cups up anywhere in the city and then drop it off at any participating coffee shop. These will all be mapped on the award-winning Refill app.” 



How does the scheme work? 

To join the scheme, retailers can subscribe and order reusable cups on a low-cost subscription basis. Customers who come in for a coffee will be given the option to have their coffee in a single-use cup or a reusable cup. 

Retailers will use the Refill app to scan a QR code on the cup to transfer the ownership of the cup to the customer. Customers can then use the app to manage the cup and to check for notifications of when and where to return it. When the cup is returned to participating retailers, it will be scanned back in, washed, and reused again and again. 

The Cup is free to use so long as it is returned. Customers will be asked to enter their card details but will only be charged if they don’t return the cup after 14 days.  



Making a real difference 

Ecosurety was delighted to support City to Sea and attend the official launch of the scheme at local Bristol café Future Leap.  

Lucy Drake-Lee, Operations Manager at Ecosurety, shared a few words at the launch: 'Ecosurety's purpose is to accelerate change to a more environmentally sustainable world and we are recognising more recently that this needs to include reuse and refill, not only because it will reduce single use plastic but also because it is incredibly less energy intensive than manufacturing single use plastic.

When the opportunity to provide funding for the Bristol Refill cup scheme came about from the Ecosurety Exploration Fund, it was quite an easy decision to get behind the Refill Cup Scheme because it’s so closely aligned with what we do. We are really excited to see how it could change wasteful behaviour and start helping people in Bristol to enjoy their coffee in a more circular and sustainable way.'

Looking forward, we need to move to a new era where we use less and less single-use packaging and find new ways to re-use and re-fill packaging, rather than use up a great deal of energy and resources recycling single-use packaging, which in some cases is necessary, but in many cases can be avoided. We hope this scheme will act as a pilot for similar schemes to work through the Refill app in future.


Written by Louise Shellard Published 16/06/2023 Topics Ecosurety
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