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The Cape Town Cup Network

An ecosystem surrounding a common reusable cup including recovery, redistribution, loyalty programme and community engagement

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Idea Title

The Cape Town Cup Network

Idea Summary

An ecosystem surrounding a common reusable cup including recovery, redistribution, loyalty programme and community engagement

Company / Organization Name (if applicable)

OpenIDEO Cape Town Meetup

Website (if applicable)

Please include a visual (can be either 2D or 3D) representation/prototype of your concept. (required)

The Cape Town Cup is a low cost reusable cup similar to the Freiburg Cup (

  • Each cup has an uniquely identifiable QR code printed on the bottom
  • Multiple vendor partners (restaurants, cafes, fast food outlets etc.) issue the Cape Town Cup instead of Single Use Cups
  • Customers have the option of
    • Returning the cup to the store they were issued the cup at or any other participating store
    • Dropping the cups at any of the marked ‘smart’-recovery bins distributed around the city
  • An accompanying App and Loyalty programme give customers incentive to request a Cape Town Cup instead of single use and thereafter return them to official return points
  • Incentives include:
    • Free Coffee / Food
    • Cape Town experiences
    • Partner discounts
    • Prestige Cool Cups at higher status tiers
  • We run a coordinated network of drivers (motorbike or tuk-tuks) who collect used cups, return them to a central facility for cleaning and redistribute to vendors to balance stock levels Just-In-Time. This is made possible by tracking every single cup through their individual QR code.
  • Cape Town has an existing community of Waste Pickers who salvage valuable waste from public and private refuse
  • We would engage with these waste pickers to create incentives for them to collect cups from the distributed recovery bins and any cups that land up in trash and return them to a central location
  • These incentives may include subsistence vouchers from partners such as U-turn ( who could also act as centralised collection points
  • Finally, we run education and community engagement programmes with schools, restaurants, offices and community organisations about the cups and why people should use them. This will include competitions, Social Media campaigns and YouTube videos

This solution addresses which of the following:

  • Some of the Above
  • Reusable System
  • Alternative Delivery System

How is your concept recoverable?

The Cape Town Cup is by design a reusable cup Cups are collected by incentivising users to return them, providing multiple accessible recovery points and partnering with Waste Pickers to recover any cups that end up in trash Cups are cleaned and redistributed back to vendors through our network of drivers to ensure they are reused

How have you incorporated additional sustainability attributes (beyond recoverability) into your solution?

The Cup itself will be manufactured as far as possible from ethically sourced and end-of-life recyclable material By partnering with the Waste Picker community we also provide an alternative form of income for this marginalised group

What regions do you plan to address with your solution (and how will you accomplish this)?

Our initial concept is focussed on the City of Cape Town with vendor partners and collection points located within the CBD. This also simplifies the recovery and redistribution network required for the initial rollout. After the initial proof of concept, we would seek to expand to the greater Cape Town area, then seek to replicate the model in other South African cities. In principle this model could also be replicated in other global developing and developed cities.

Describe your target market. Who will benefit from your product?

We aim to initially target the on-the-go coffee drinker by highlighting the convenience and environmental impact of the cups that will appeal to these users The associated loyalty programme will also have a tiering element (with different colour cups) giving customers engaged with the programme a visible status indicator

What is the current stage of development of your idea?

  • Research & Early Testing

What are the biggest challenges you are facing today? What are existing gaps in your solution?

All of the physical and technology components of the solution utilise existing technology so our challenges are more around sourcing and coordinating than new technology development There are multiple pieces that need to come together We will need to form partnerships with vendors, the city and the waste picker community We will need initial funding and support to engage with these partners until the marketing and economic value of the reusable cups in proven and we draw revenue by selling the “cups-as-a-service” to our vendor partners

Mentorship Needs (please select up to 3)

  • Business Model Development
  • Growth and Scaling
  • Fundraising / Finance

Tell us about yourself and your team. What is your background and experience?

We are a group of young professionals in Cape Town drawn together by our shared passion for problem solving and social impact. We include in our numbers Engineers, Political and Economic Analysts, New Business Developers and all round cool cats

In what city are you located?

Cape Town

In what country are you located?

South Africa

What is your legal / organizational structure? (if applicable)

Currently informal meetup Applying to be an official OpenIDEO Chapter / Outpost

Please describe how becoming a Top Idea will support the growth of your concept.

Working with the Consortium Partners will be the perfect gateway into engaging with vendor partners to issue the cups and understand their specific needs Funding would go towards an initial POC requiring: sourcing of reusable cups, issuing cups at selected outlets, setting up smart collection bins, building an MVP Loyalty App, marketing material to acquire initial member base, tracking of the cups and development of prototype redistribution network and incentives for Waste Pickers

How did you hear about the Challenge?

  • Someone in my network (word of mouth)


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