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How Beer Festivals Can Teach Us How To Change The Way We Consume Products

Platform that allows the implementation of circular economy strategies which provide financial rewards for coffee shop owners and consumers

Photo of Juan Forno

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I went for a few beers with a buddy of mine to brainstorm ideas for this Circular Design Challenge and we ended up getting on a tangent about beer festivals and how big those beer mugs are! He was telling me that he once lost the little blue coin that they give you when you pay the deposit on the mug while he was dancing so he was not able to get his money back (although taking home a traditional 3-pound German beer mug souvenir was not a bad deal). The story sparked an interesting conversation about how beer festival organizers managed to create a sustainable way to provide a service (beer) to people without generating waste. 

After further discussing the concept, we added a few other strategies that are already being used by businesses and we came up with a solution that could help coffee shops provide their services without generating waste and at the same time create a financial incentive for themselves and their customers. 

This idea borrows the following concepts/strategies that have already been established and, in a way, market tested (Please see examples for all three strategies above – Disclaimer: I do not have one artistic bone in my body)

-Deposit Strategy For Containers
-Rewards Programs (Apps) + Purchase tracking
-Reusable Cups / “Bring your own cup” service delivery models

Our idea is essentially to create a program which is paired with an app that rewards customers for getting their drinks in either a reusable cup that they bring from home, or by paying a deposit (which they will get back upon return) on one of the shop’s standard reusable ones.

Here is how it would work (crappy explanation pictures included).

Option 1: Deposit on coffee shop’s reusable cup

Let’s say Sam goes to Coffee Shop X to get his morning cup of coffee. He would order the coffee and pay the discounted fee plus $3 deposit for the reusable cup. Sam would then open the program’s app and have the cashier scan the bar code to receive both his virtual deposit voucher (like the blue coin in beer festivals) and the rewards points that would give him future gifts and discounts.

Once Sam is done, he can return the cup to a participating store, scan the app again and get his deposit back, keep the deposit voucher and simply get a clean cup with a new purchase, keep it, or toss it. Because the deposit covers the cost of the cup, the store does not lose any money and since the cup would be made from durable material, it can get tossed in a bin to get recycled. Another benefit is that customers who are returning the deposit cups might be prone to purchase from the store again given that they are already in.



Option 2: “Bring Your Own” Model

This option is pretty straight forward. Let’s say Sam brings his own cup from home. He would just hand the cup to the cashier, scan the app, pay the discounted price and get his rewards from the program.


How The Program + App Can Benefit Store-Owners, Customers, and the Environment

 Customers:

  • Discounted prices on drinks
  • They can receive discounts and rewards
  • There is an opportunity to include elements of gamification (Think about how fit bit makes tracking steps into a game) like a personal environmental impact meter or medals as participation and consistency on program increases.
  • It does not matter if they forget their own cups at home


Business Owners:

  • The app can provide consumer analytics: information about their client’s purchasing preferences and habits that help make better financial decisions. This can also be beneficial for small coffee shops who want to launch tailored marketing campaigns that are tailored to consumer preferences.
  • The app could potentially create a more direct channel of communication to their customers.
  • Save money on single-use use cups
  • Improve brand image
  • As mentioned before, people returning their cups might be tempted to buy form shop again.

Environment

  • Less plastic waste from lids (Yey!)
  • The app can also become a channel through which we can educate people who want to learn more about ways to contribute to the betterment of the environment and other circular economy models.


This idea is in its initial stages but we want to note that the essence of it is the platform (Program + App). This is what allows customers to enjoy the performance of the use a coffee cup can have and not have to be burdened with the ownership of it. In terms of the cups themselves, we have seen a plethora of great designs in this Idea Phase that can be used as the “Standard Deposit Cup”. We are also trying to debate whether the cups should be produced by us or the businesses themselves. The advantage of us producing the cups is that it will allow for a more standardized application of the program. On the other hand, the businesses may want to brand their own cups which will alleviate us having to create them.

Company / Organization Name

AZ Think Tank

Where are you / your team located?

Tempe, Arizona

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

This idea makes it so that businesses can offer a service without generating waste to distribute that service. It allows businesses to track their methods of distribution (in this case coffee cups) beyond the point of purchase, which is one of the main objectives of a Circular Economy. It is not so much as redesigning small format plastic but eliminating the need of them.

Which use cases does your Idea apply to?

Use Case 3

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

The idea can virtually operate in any metropolitan area where there is a culture of on-the-go drink consumption. Because we wanted to come up with an idea that could be feasible locally, in this specific case, the scope focuses on local coffee shops.

How do you envision scaling up your Idea?

The platform aspect would be simple to scale. That being said, obstacles naturally come when ideas are first implemented. Standardization may be a concern since people bringing their own cups may cause safety (temperatures), sanitation, and usability for coffee machines issues. A way to tackle this is by having stores sell their own versions of a durable cup (which most already do). Eventually, this will not be an optional program but a way coffee shops do business.

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.

The Accelerator will help us develop a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) prototype of the platform that we can test with a few local coffee shops. After a 1-2 month test time we would make iterations and polish interface and application details. Mentorship will be crucial in developing an interface that is intuitive and simple to follow. We want this to be something that anyone can learn to do on the fly. They will also help develop the right partnerships to get the idea off the ground.

Please describe from where your Idea emerged

Although the spark came from our initial conversation, we had been exposed in different ways to the three concepts that we merged to create this idea. But the greatest source of inspiration came from the TED Talk video we included. The reason why we create so much waste is because the performance life cycles of products are way shorter than the life cycle of products. These insights allowed us to think in terms of the performance of a product and not the ownership of it.

Tell us about your work experience

I have a background in Business Entrepreneurship & Model Development, and Project Management. Alex has a background in Sustainability, Applied Mathematics, Data Analytics, and Emerging Tech Assessment

14 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Spam
Photo of Lauren Ito
Team

Hi Juan Pablo Forno 

As Refinement Phase quickly comes to a close in LESS THAN 8 HOURS, I want to remind you that the following must be submitted by tonight, August 31st at 11:30 p.m. Pacific Time.

1. Submit the Refinement Questions Form online that was sent again via email yesterday evening--we have not yet received this from you. These questions are mandatory for Top Ideas consideration, so this should be your first priority in the final stretch.

2. A secondary priority, which is optional, is to update your Refinement Phase post. I see you've already updated your concept on the platform. But please share any additional information, photos, and documentation of your progress throughout this Phase!

Looking forward to reviewing and celebrating the amazing work you've achieved this Refinement Phase! 

Spam
Photo of Louise Sarah Clifford
Team

Hi Juan and Alex,

I love your idea. There is a music festival in a small town in Ireland that uses a similar idea to this. They provide all the alcoholic beverages in plastic reusable cups. If you returned the cup to the bar, you received a discount on your next drink. This stopped littering at the festival and the cups were nicely designed that a lot of them were kept by festival goers as souvenirs.

I really like to app idea for tracking points. I know a lot of coffee shops provide loyalty cards but I always lose them. If you are looking to talk to Barista's abroad, I am one and have loads of people I could connect you with.

Looking forward to seeing updates on your idea in the near future.

Louise.

Spam
Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Louise!

Thank you so much for taking time out to comment on the ideas in the refinement phase. We really appreciate it. If you have time, would you take a look at Groof - a reusable coffee lid made out of coffee ground waste 

Spam
Photo of Louise Sarah Clifford
Team

Hi Kate,

It's a pleasure to get involved with such an interesting challenge on OpenIDEO. I will take the time to look at that link now :)

Louise

Spam
Photo of Louise Sarah Clifford
Team

Hi Kate,

It's a pleasure to get involved with such an interesting challenge on OpenIDEO. I will take the time to look at that link now :)

Louise

Spam
Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Juan!

There are 7 days left in the refinement phase.

If there is key information in the comments on your idea submission, I recommend that you move them to the main body of your idea submission before the cut-off time.

I just want to remind you that the deadline to complete the Refinement Questions via the online submission form is August 31 at 11:30 p.m. Pacific Time.

Spam
Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Juan and Alex!

Welcome to the refinement phase. It is great that you have been talking to people who work in coffee shops about your idea.

How could you integrate this deposit / reuse model into the existing business models of coffee shop chains? How would you persuade several brands (e.g. Starbucks, Costa coffee etc.) to collectively come on board with this idea instead of adopting their own system?

What are the key questions you have about Option 1 or Option 2? How could you prototype and test for one or both options (time dependent)?

There are a few ideas from previous challenges that might give you some ideas:

Employee wellness programs from our food waste challenge - https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/food-waste/final-feedback/employee-wellness-programs-offer-more-than-just-healthy-eating-tips - is a good example of identifying and testing the riskiest assumption with the use of A/B testing

Also, for Stepwise -https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/fall-prevention/top-ideas/walk-wise - the ideator filmed people using a very early stage version of her idea to understand how they would interact with the solution and what their experience is.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me by tagging me here (@ followed by my name) or sending me an email - krushton@ideo.com

I just want to remind you that the deadline to complete the Refinement Questions via the online submission form is August 31 at 11:30 p.m. Pacific Time.

Spam
Photo of Troy Gardner
Team

Lol Your art skills are plenty for this. Thinking similarly in my coffee project, but we favor glass (like the beersteins) both for quality of experience (glass/ceramic tastes better than paper for coffee and tea), silicone covers like in water/exercise bottles for dropping/grip/temperature.

We take it one step simpler, our coffee is a concentrate, so can be done like soda dispensors self serve, which already at convenience stores have a bring your own, get a durable refill at reasonable price or a disposable paper cup thin plastic lid, without an app/user tracking hassles (imagine this implemented at starbucks mini kiosks in airports, pizza huts, picking it up one place and going to a different state and returning it)

Also much of coffee comes from it's boiling hot brew method and is not necessary for serving at that temperature. Ceramic mugs are a better insulator than single use foam will ever be.

Spam
Photo of Juan Forno
Team

Hey Troy!
Thanks for the confidence boost in my drawing skills :) The whole concept of adding and app is for coffee shops to also have an incentive to drive the agenda forward. I think that if there is a way to eliminate waste and at the same time develop closer relationships to their consumers is a win-win.

You bring up some valid points in terms of the material of the cups. We were talking to a barista who is interested in being part of the pilot and he said that the most efficient way to so this and still be able to scale would be to use aluminum because of its weight, cost, and features. Nothing replaces ceramic but we know that most people wont carry a ceramic cup around.

Spam
Photo of Troy Gardner
Team

Aluminum wouldn't be a very good choice, it's a great heat conductor (why so much cookware is made from it), and you'd burn your hand at boiling water temps, try cutting a lid off a soda can and try putting warm water to see how well it does.

There are a few reusable cups on this contest like cupuchinno that might work for your agenda.

Spam
Photo of Juan Forno
Team

I agree, that is why that idea is listed as an inspiration for our proposal. Thanks for the heads up!

Spam
Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Juan!

It is great to see you in the challenge!

What is the next step in the development of your idea?

Do you have any existing barriers to developing your idea that you’d like to share to help the OpenIDEO community understand where they might join the conversation and provide feedback?

I am just putting some names here but I am sure the OpenIDEO community can come up with some more interesting ones:

Ritorno
Reditus
Revita

Spam
Photo of Juan Forno
Team

Hey Kate,

Well we are talking to a few supply chain management professors at the state university for guidance on how the model can be lean and scalable. We also want to start talking to coffee shops who would be interested in forming part of this program. The big challenge is that we do not have many developers so we do not even know how much time and money building the inter-phase would take.

Thank you for the names! I'll get on them rn. :)

Also, you are doing a great job keeping the OpenIDEO community engaged and connected so thank you for that as well!

Spam
Photo of Juan Forno
Team

We are looking for a name for this idea so feel free to recommend some in the comments!