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A reusable & returnable to-go cups system

What we've learned from the implementation of the system.

Photo of Yi-Chen Sung
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We are a team of 3 social designers based in Tainan, Taiwan, and have been trying to tackle the issue of too many disposable cups being used in Taiwan. We'd like to share what we've learned so far.

We have been implementing a reusable cups rental system, in which reusable & returnable cups are provided to our members when they buy their drinks from our vendor partners. 

  1. We deliver cleaned, sanitized and reusable cups to vendors
  2. Customers get their drinks in the reusable & returnable cups
  3. After finishing the drinks, customers return the cups to any of our vendor partners
  4. We collect used cups from vendor partners and clean and sanitize all used cups

We use mason jars with plastic (PP) sip lids.

We are partnered with 6 vendors, have recruited 600+ members and have saved 800+ disposable cups in about 3 months. 

Lessons Learned

  • Customers use the cup in our system only when they are sure they will be at a place where a vendor partner is available so they will be able to return the cup.
  • The sip lids decrease the uses of straws.  
  • Although our cups come with many parts (a jar, a band, and a lid), customers return all parts. 
  • Both customers and vendors feel the glass material is "cleaner," compare to plastic or stainless.
  • Customers like it because it makes the drink look and feel special.
  • The non-return rate is about 13.2% 

We are continuing gathering more data and feedback and trying to improve the service. Hope this info may inspire some other creativity.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Winnie Yeh

Great to see this tried! From your experience, what did the vendor partners think about this? Did they find it as more trouble or as a good service?

Photo of Yi-Chen Sung

Hi Winnie,
It's a good question! From our observations, vendor partners' opinions depend on how much they care about the environment and how much their customers care about the environment. Most of the vendor partner who cares the environment think it is a good service, the vendor is willing to partner with us to refine the rental system, and will actually pay for this service. However, many vendor partners are not so eco-minded, and they think it's troublesome, immature and cost too much (comparing to disposable containers).
It is what we've observed. Any comments are welcome! Thanks!

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