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Beverage Container Reuse Model for multiple brand coffee houses

An idea to make a uniform beverage container reuse system which offers branding solutions so that different retailers can participate.

Photo of Ocean Littlefield
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Washable Branding for Coffee Mugs and Lids.  This would be a new business who serves the Coffee House Industry for the primary purpose of replacing disposable coffee mugs with re-useable "to-go" mugs which can be returned to any competing coffee house (who is participating).

It goes like this:  When someone buys a coffee at a local coffee shop like "starbucks" they turn in they're *standard* coffee mug (from a local competitor, like Pete's, with Pete's Branding on it) for a discount on their drink.  The mug goes into a collection system.  It is collected together locally along with thousands of others from all the local coffee houses who are participating.  They then go to a processing plant who washes them in bulk.  The washing process removes all Branding (printed with a special, washable ink).  After washing, the now "blank" mugs are funneled back into a Brand Printing Process (in the same facility), in which they receive a new Label.  They become part of a new batch of branded mugs for one of the many coffee houses who are participating in the system.  The batch is shipped and the mug is eventually re-used, sporting a new brand for a new day.

An interesting effect of this idea might be that customers develop a stronger "loyalty" relationship with coffee houses who participate in the system, because it allows the customer to avoid feeling so wasteful every time they purchase a beverage.  They would likely make more of an effort to go to a participating coffee house just so they could turn in they're mug (for a discount), even if it meant driving a little further.

Idea Title

Washable Branding for Re-Useable Coffee Mugs & Lids.

Where are you / your team located?

Northern California

How does this Idea redesign unrecyclable small format plastic items that often end up as waste?

It replaces disposable coffee mugs and lids with ones that are re-useable across a multitude of Brands. Customers are encouraged to return them by gaining a discount on their next purchase when they turn in a re-useable mug at the time of purchasing a beverage. They can turn in a mug with any branding at any competitors location so long as the mug is part of the system.

Which use cases does your Idea apply to?

Coffee House Convenience to-go mugs.

In what geographical context or area does your Idea plan to operate / solve?

Every city large enough to make the cost / scale factor break even.

How do you envision scaling up your Idea?

Coffee houses of every brand will get the branding that they want on a common mug (or perhaps a set like small, medium, large). The system will eliminate the need for coffee houses to wash their own mugs (simply put them into a collection bin which gets collected by the program as often as is necessary, while dropping off a fresh set of mugs).

At what stage of development is your Idea?

  • Research & Early Testing: You are exploring an idea, gathering inspiration and information needed to test it with real users.

Please describe how becoming a Top Idea and working with the Think Beyond Plastics Accelerator Program will help to accelerate your solution.

Success would be that someone takes my idea and runs with it. I am just a guy who read the article and had an idea and wanted to share it.

Please describe from where your Idea emerged

Inspiration, while reading the article about this challenge.

Tell us about your work experience

I'm a maker. I live off grid on solar energy. I am working on a hand - built electric car (my first). I am building a permaculture homestead paradise....

Please describe your legal and organizational structure

There is none. I'm just a guy doing his thing out here in the country.


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Photo of OpenIDEO

Hi Ocean Littlefield 
Interesting post! Any chance you could find an image to go along with it? Images help grab attention and tell a story. You should be able to use the Edit Contribution button on the top of your post and follow the instructions to add images from there. Looking forward to seeing more of your inspiring insights on OpenIDEO.

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