CupClub Is A Poster Child For Sustainable, Circular Design
It is a cup of service, rather than a cup as a product.
Architect Safia Qureshi wanted to change the world but ended up designing private houses for rich people. So she invented Cupclub, a circular-economy service that could eliminate single-use coffee cups.
It is actually a very clever idea: a polypropylene cup and with a polyethylene lid and an RFID chip in the bottom so that it can be tracked.
You just drink and drop. You go to your favorite coffee shop – at the moment that will be in offices and university campuses. You order your coffee with the Cupclub product. The barista will remind you to put the cup in one of the collection points when you’re done, and that’s it. Our orders are direct to the retailer; consumers don’t pay any extra.
Cupclub then collects the cups from any drop point, washes them and reuses them an estimated 132 times.
Watch the video below and see how simple it is!
On the CupClub site, they explain that it is much like the London Bikeshare program, where you don’t pay to own a bike, but pay per ride. “To create an effective circular economy, Cupclub has reworked the idea of ‘owning a cup’ to ‘pay per drink’ which covers the cost of the cup, the maintenance and infrastructure costs.”
It’s actually brilliant; the customer gets the convenience of a takeaway cup, the coffee vendor doesn’t have to worry about washing china, the municipality doesn’t have to deal with the garbage; it creates a zero waste, circular economy.
CupClub won part of the $2m New Plastics Economy Innovation Prize from the Ellen MacArther Foundation, who have been doing great work exposing the problems of single-use plastic and looking for solutions. This one could really work; we are creatures of habit and often go back to the same coffee shop chain.