Way to Go!: Collaborative take-back system for on-the-go reusable cups

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Imagine grabbing a coffee at a Hema shop before boarding your train at Rotterdam Centraal. This coffee comes in a reusable, light, spill-proof cup.

You pay a deposit fee on the cup and your coffee travels with you to Amsterdam Centraal, where you leave your train and drop your (now empty) cup at the nearest collection point– either in the HEMA shop, on the platform itself, or even inside the train, before you leave! 

Your cup comes with a QR code that you scan before dropping the cup, which gives you a voucher to get your deposit money back. You can redeem your cash back at any one of the partner shops anywhere. The washing of the cups is a shared responsibility between partners, and is a visible process to make sure you *know* your reusable cup has been properly cleaned. 

The cup design needs is stackable in order to make it easy to store and to move, and reverse logistics also need to be set in place to facilitate the transport of the cups from the different collection points back to the cleaning stations."

Key users:

On-the-go coffee/tea drinkers in the Netherlands who don't carry reusable cups on them at all times and need a simple solution to have their drink on the go and can't hold on to their cups (i.e. need to dispose of them quickly).

Key partners and systems needed:

  • NS
  • Kiosk
  • Starbucks
  • MacDonald's
  • Local coffee companies
  • Washing infrastructure  


The first phase of this challenge looked at key opportunity areas, barriers to overcome, inspirational case studies, existing research, facts and figures, and other insights around the challenge. The Circle Economy team identified and clustered all submissions into key areas of opportunity that served to inspire and support the development of new solutions at the Beyond Next circularity festival. This is one of the solutions that came out of the event. 

Are you working or keen to work on a similar solution? Get in touch with us! >

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