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GO2CUP - Facilitating participation and cooperation towards a waste free future.

A platform cooperative for returnable, reusable cups.

Photo of Daniel Grosso
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Idea Title

Idea Summary

GO2CUP is a platform cooperative for businesses who accept returnable, reusable cups that are washed using their on-site commercial dishwasher so they can be used again and again and again.

Company / Organization Name (if applicable)

GO2CUP

Website (if applicable)

www.go2cup.com.au

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

The Vision

Imagine a world where communities are collectively responsible for local, reusable resources. 

What we do

GO2CUP is a platform cooperative for local businesses who accept returnable, reusable cups. 

We're creating a movement of co-creators. 

We facilitate communities to actively participate in a shared responsibility of washing local cups. Rather than relying on large scale recycling infrastructure, or complex collection systems, we remove barriers for communities to participate and connect participants so we can create our future waste free world together. 

How does it work?

When businesses register they:

  1. Nominate which cups they accept for return
  2. Nominate what system they will use to implement returnable cups with their community. 

Businesses can kick off with a free option utilising mugs, jars, or old coffee cups contributed from the community. Or the business can choose to purchase cups through the cooperative to get the cup (and lid) that suits their customers and their business (often storage space is an issue). 

The business then nominates implementing:

  • A purely returnable cup (no strings attached)
  • A deposit scheme
  • A loyalty card (10 returned cups equals a free coffee)
  • Any other system (better ideas could very well emerge through the cooperative). 

GO2CUP adds the participating business to our online map so people can find their closest dishwashing champion:

The map includes the above details about how they are implementing their returnable, reusable cup option. We provide educational/promotional material for staff and the community. We also provide staff specific training so businesses have everything they need to successfully implement a cup library that significantly reduces their disposable cup use. 

Connecting Participants

We add participating businesses to our Facebook page where we learn and grow together. Here business leaders discuss:

  • Better cup options
  • How to overcome dishwashing challenges
  • How to better have meaningful conversations with their community.

Why a Platform Cooperative? 

People are crying out for ways they can participate in creating a better future. We are clearing a path for people to join, removing barriers and asking them nicely to participate. We don't need everyone to change their habits, we just need enough people. Once we reach a social tipping point it will no longer be acceptable to be wasteful. At this point the rest of the businesses, communities and governments will have no choice but to be responsible for their resources or risk becoming irrelevant. 

As GO2CUP grows it becomes better placed to source reusable cups on a large scale making it cheaper to get the most appropriate returnable, reusable cups to participating businesses. 

In essence GO2CUP is a retailer of reusable cups only to businesses who are willing to explore utilising them in a returnable way. With the combined purchase power of the cooperative, GO2CUP creates a market advantage against other distributers; all while creating the largest collective dishwashing collective in the world. 

The story so far

Over the past two years GO2CUP has been exploring different ways to implement a reusable cup. We have 16 participating cafes operating a returnable, reusable cup. 

Below are a few lessons we'd like to share to other initiatives in this competition exploring reusable options:

  • A small amount of regular returnable cups can equate to a significant reduction in disposable cup use at a business. 
  • Just by having the option at the cafe participating businesses have noticed an increase in the quantity of their customers bringing their own cups to use. The businesses can lead the way towards creating a community culture that no longer accepts wasteful habits associated with disposable cups. 
  • There is a business case for a returnable cup. A customer often returns with their cup and their wallet. So the business saves money not having to purchase a disposable cups and the customer returns for a repeat purchase. It is a great way to improve customer loyalty and create a human connection rather than being a strict food and beverage monetary value transaction.
  • People have their favourite cafe and generally return to that. We explored a "travelling" cup but found that people want to return to their favourite spot. Also cafes don't like the idea that their cups and their customers will end up at another business. 
  • Central washing facilities and complex collection systems are expensive to operate and challenging to fund through businesses who often survive on small profit margins. We fund our central washing facility mainly through our waste free events with our paying customer in most cases being local government. 
  • Cafes and communities are more willing to participate when they feel they own the system they are participating in. 

Connect with us

We're really looking forward to being apart of this journey with the rest of you. If you'd like to connect and share perspectives definitely get in contact through this platform or the details below!

contact@go2cup.com.au

www.facebook.com/go2cup

www.instagram.com/go2cup

This solution addresses which of the following:

  • Reusable System

How is your concept recoverable?

GO2CUP utilises existing (and often heavily under-utilised) water and energy efficient commercial dishwashers that are scattered all throughout our cities. Our cooperative operates under the premise of participation. It's the individuals who returns the cups to the cafes to wash. The cups remain local and reusable for a long life because we facilitate shared ownership and responsibility of the system. Similar to other platform cooperatives around the world the overall responsibility of quality control lies with its participants. Participating businesses can be reported for unsafe practices through the platform but ultimate responsibility lies with the participant. If the business decides a cup is unhygienic or not safe to use, GO2CUP will accept the cup back and be responsible for the recycling of that cup. By utilising strategic recycling partners, GO2CUP ensures that cups don't go into the system without accepting the responsibility for the cup's end of life.

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

Let's move beyond sustainability. We are all collectively apart of this living world. Each one of us contributes to how we use our resources in unity with this planet. We need to move away from the frame of harm minimisation and move toward accepting that we all have a contribution to provide in this complex and beautiful system we call life. All we do is facilitate that participation and offer a path for people to contribute in shared responsibility of local, returnable, reusable cups.

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

This movement operates in our cities and towns that have existing businesses with commercial dishwashing capabilities. We've started in my hometown of Perth, Western Australia and are just signing up our first interstate cafe in Sydney, New South Whales. At the moment the idea grows through word of mouth and social media. Our next step is to connect with existing returnable, reusable initiatives to feed the momentum. We'll continue to learn and try new things until reusable is the norm.

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

This initiative is for business leaders who are ready to explore alternative options to single-use cups. Participants learn from each other and save money on obtaining cups through the collective purchase power of the cooperative. The business drives the initiative in the best way that works for them and their local community. They take ownership, adapt and improve the initiative, giving it a life of its own. The businesses know their customers the best and know how best to communicate their initiative with their community. We've learnt these lessons through our 16 participating cafes all with their individual perspective and challenges.

What is the current stage of development of your idea?

  • Piloting

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

The biggest challenges we face today are: - finding the best way to reach out to our market - having the time to implement our strategy to scale the initiative. Growing this initiative over the past two years and all the achievements and milestones reached have been done while working full time. Though a successful small business has been created, it won't become a thriving concept until we have the time, energy, and resources to support growth. Not having the right platform or communication channels is our biggest hurdle at the moment. Preparing these is the next stage in the development of GO2CUP.

Mentorship Needs (please select up to 3)

  • Branding / Marketing and Storytelling

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

I (Dan Grosso) have been exploring new ways to utilise reusables for the last 2 years. I'm passionate about addressing our climate emergency and changing our social paradigm from individual consumerism and move towards collective responsibility.

In what city are you located?

Perth

In what country are you located?

Australia

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

Sole Proprietor.

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

Learning from leaders with experience in implementing large scale change will help GO2CUP realise its potential. The funding will be used to commit my time towards: - creating a platform cooperative that works for/with its participants - connecting with existing initiatives to learn and grow - connecting with business leaders ready to implement reusables. GO2CUP will become the world's largest global collective of dishwashers replacing disposables with a reusable alternative.

How did you hear about the Challenge?

  • OpenIDEO announcement email

6 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of geoffrey mosigisi
Team

Hi ,Daniel

It's interesting to meet your idea, your creativity and the set up of the model.I wish to know if the men, in your country are able to carry the cups to reuse in cafes? Why do your group opt to nominate a cup,they have different colours or being durable? GO2CUP,purchases cups for the members who wish to participate, how then do you generate the profits, I wish to learn more on those parts .Also this my opportunity to welcome to comment on my idea ,please .thanks

Photo of Daniel Grosso
Team

Hi geoffrey mosigisi , thanks for engaging with this concept! We have local businesses and communities already adopting returnable, reusable cups. But still the vast majority of takeaway coffee in Australia (approximately 80-90%) are sold in takeaway/disposable cups. From my surveying of takeaway coffee drinkers in Australia the decision about where Aussies get coffee and what coffee cup they use is very much driven by the customer's perception of drinking "good coffee". There doesn't seem to be much evidence of the style of coffee cup dictating where people choose to get their coffee. Though some customers have chosen pretty pictures/patterns/colours to support charities even when the coffee cup ends up in landfill. My thoughts are that it isn't the style of the cup that will entice communities to choose reusable, but the feeling of participating in a collective action, i.e. people choose the pretty cup for the donation to a charity (collective action). I have tried various different revenue models. Currently I generate revenue both through cup hire (pay per use/per wash) as well as cup selling. The model I'm proposing here is making a profit by selling the cups to participating cafes. The cafes get cheaper cups due to the ability for the cooperative to purchase cups in bulk from the cup manufacturers. And the organisation itself takes a cut to facilitate and spread the promotion of the initiative. But in essence the profit is made through selling cups to participating cafes.

Photo of heather kelly
Team

I love it! Great idea... I love that you have already started piloting this. The concept is fantastic. Would you be willing to FaceTime with my class?? I teach an Innovation course at Troy High School in Michigan. The students would really benefit from hearing your story!

Photo of Daniel Grosso
Team

Hi heather kelly , I'd love to FaceTime with your class! Feel free to email contact@go2cup.com.au and we'll tee up a time.

I have actually facilitated two schools in my hometown Perth to set up their own student run dishwashing service that benefits the school and provides the students with insight into running a small business. Maybe something to consider if your school is littered with disposables?

Photo of Kate Dewick
Team

I think this is a great initiative that would greatly benefit from some really effective designs and branding; distinct and quirky cup designs would help draw in more people (who may not be originally drawn to the sustainability aspect) and allow them to make a stronger statement, both aesthetically and as a mindful consumer. We can see the success from design through brands like KeepCup and Frank Green as people can choose their own colour combinations and design.

I also think it will be important to consider the issues that might arise if consumers continually forget to return the cups and if the cafe's subsequently run-out. A time period limit might have to be implemented in which consumers have to return their cups (further incentive might be needed to encourage and reward continually prompt users).

Photo of Daniel Grosso
Team

Thanks Kate Dewick ! I have actually thought about marketing this to local government and branding cups with local artwork. Definitely an idea to explore further...

As far as the incentive goes I've learnt that the cafes are the ones with the connection to their customer. They know best so I've decided to leave the incentive up to them. But I've also noticed that people have been drawn to this concept for value greater than personal financial reward. In Australia we have an initiative called Responsible Cafes which provides $0.2-$0.5 for those who bring their reusable cup to a participating cafe. Even though many cafes offer this incentive they still struggle to have greater than 20% of their customers bring their own cup. People aren't motivated by financial incentive, they are motivated by purpose and belonging. You're right though cafes have found they need to have 3 times the quantity of cups used per week as their total stock in rotation in order not to run out.