In a study done at Iowa State University (https://lib.dr.iastate.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=5854&context=etd), 96 participants were surveyed over a wide range of demographics. In the results, over 60% of reusable bottle owners gave maintenance problems as the biggest reason for not using them all of the time. This is in spite of more than 75% of them citing environment as a major interest. For those who did not own reusable bottles, 41% stated that they were too much of a nuisance to carry around while 30% stated that they did not buy hot beverages often enough to justify carrying one. It became clear to us that a system where the maintenance of reuse is externalized to the customer would never work on a large scale.
THECup (There, Here, Everywhere Cup) is built on the idea of shared systems, that resources can be managed to make them ready for the next user without creating something new. The design of the cup system utilizes reusable elements that can be easily separated and recovered if trashed as well as fully recyclable and compostable elements. One aim of the physical cup system redesign is to maintain a level of convenience for the consumers and the partner companies while decreasing waste to landfills. Although all parties will be encouraged to adapt new practices to useutilize our idea, we plan on implementing a distribution structure within the community to make it easier.
The physical cup system focuses on a cup made of either a stainless steel or aluminum material. Reasons for choosing either stainless steel or aluminum is that they are durable, easy to clean, do not retain residual taste or smells, and they are fully recoverable materials. Further investigation will be made on the cost of manufacturing and testing on life-cycle of the cup. The sleeve will be made of an un-coated paper that is completely recoverable and decomposable. The lid will be a starch-based bio-plastic.
This idea relies heavily on the partnership and cooperation between local cafes, large corporate coffee chains (Starbucks, Mcdonalds), and a distribution company, that manages the maintenance and assures each shop has its allotment of cups. Post-manufacturing, the distribution company will ensure the convenience for cafes and individual customers. After purchasing a drink from a cafe, the customer can finish their drink anywhere on their route and drop it off at a nearby coffee shop that uses THECup. The coffee shop will clean and reuse cups they need and the rest will be cleaned and redistributed by the distribution company. Any damages or replacements needed will be handled by the distribution company. To encourage the customer to return it to a cafe and not toss it in the trash, the return bins will be located near the entrance/ exit of each cafe. The customers will also have a key card that when they borrow a cup, will charge them a small fee. When they are ready to drop off the cup they will use the key card to open the bin and drop off the cup, the fee will then be returned to their card. Customers who also use this program will have special line skipping privileges. This will entice other customer to join in the program and reward those that utilize the program.