Costa Coffee trials blockchain-enabled reusable cup loan scheme

Image: Costa Coffee

The trial scheme began across 14 stores in Glasgow today (29 September) and will last for six months. It is called BURT – short for borrow, use, reuse and take back.

Under the scheme, customers are required to make a one-off £5 deposit payment and to sign up for a digital BURT account. They are then asked to scan the QR codes located in their chosen store and on the base of the cup they will borrow from the store. This will link the cup to their account using blockchain, which creates a digital ledger.

For Costa, the blockchain solution, which is being provided by digital agency Austella, will enable the tracking of cup use. The platform will notably calculate the environmental impact of cup reuse.

For customers, BURT means that they do not have to carry their own cup around all day or worry about forgetting their cup at home. Once they have finished their beverage, customers will be able to return the BURT cups to participating stores where they will be scanned by a staff member and deinked from their account.

“We are excited to be the first national coffee company to be offering a solution like BURT, to further incentivise the uptake of reusable cups in our stores,” Costa Coffee UK & Ireland’s managing director Neil Lake said.

“Alongside our newly launched Costa Coffee Club offer of a free drink for every four drinks bought in a reusable cup, we hope this trial will show another way forward in helping to reduce waste whilst improving customer experience.”

As well as Austella, Costa is working with charity Keep Scotland Beautiful and with Glasgow City Council on the trials.

Costa has stated that it intends to roll out the BURT initiative to more stores across the UK, in a phased manner. The trials will be used to assess the real-world practicalities of the blockchain system and to collect feedback from customers.

Reuse: Back on the radar

With lockdown restrictions having lifted in the UK, many food-to-go chains are relaunching and adapting reusable packaging schemes.

Starbucks announced this summer that it will launch a cup sharing scheme in the UK by the end of the year, whereby customers will pay a small deposit fee for a reusable cup that is suitable for hot and cold drinks. They will receive 25-30p off of each beverage every time the cup is reused – the current incentive already on offer. Each cup has an identifying number, meaning that Starbucks staff can scan them and return the fee to the customer once they are finished.

Similarly, McDonald’s UK has partnered with Terracycle’s Loop platform for a cup reuse scheme. Customers will be offered the cups from early 2022.

And, more recently, Just Eat partnered with reusable packaging service CLUBZERO to trial a reuse system in partnership wit six of its partner restaurants in London.

Sarah George

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie