Costa trials new innovative reusable cup scheme

Costa Coffee has just launched a trial of a new blockchain technology-powered reusable cup scheme called BURT.

BURT – which stands for ‘Borrow, Use, Reuse, Take Back’ – builds on Costa Coffee’s work to improve the sustainability of its cups and packaging by utilising innovative digital technology, seeking to shift consumer behaviour towards reuse. The trial launches today across 14 stores in Glasgow, the home of COP26, and will last for six months.

Costa Coffee will be using the trial to gain feedback from customers and learn about uptake and behaviour towards reusable cups. It will then use its findings to optimise and develop a scheme that will roll out more widely across the UK in phases.

To participate in the trial, customers must set up an account to join the BURT scheme by scanning a QR code displayed in one of the 14 participating stores. By making a one-off £5 payment to join the scheme, customers can then scan the QR code on the base of a BURT cup, which links the cup to the customer’s account, via blockchain technology. They can then pay at the till as normal while a barista prepares their favourite handcrafted Costa coffee.

After enjoying their coffee on-the-go, customers can return the cup to a participating Costa Coffee store at a time that suits them, where it will be scanned back in by the team, delinked from their account, and hygienically machine-washed in store, ready for the next customer. Customers will be given a new BURT cup with each new order.

The trial is being run in partnership with the digital agency, Austella, on its innovative blockchain-powered Valari platform. It will not only reduce the number of single-use cups used but also make it easier for customers who may have forgotten their reusable cups to still be able to pick up their favourite Costa coffee on-the-go, without waste. It is also perfect for those preferring not to carry their own cup around each day.

The BURT cups are made from high-quality and durable stainless steel, making them long-lasting and easy to clean in Costa’s in-store dishwashers, and can hold 8oz (Mini), 12oz (Small) and 16oz (Medium) drinks. Not only that, BURT cups also fit with Costa Express machines, giving customers even more chances to enjoy perfectly crafted Costa coffee wherever they are.

Neil Lake, Managing Director, Costa Coffee UK&I, said, “Our customers believe passionately in being able to make choices that help them do their bit to protect the environment. Our priority at Costa Coffee is to provide convenient, effective solutions while continuing to serve great tasting, perfectly crafted coffee.

'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.

'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.

'It will also help us understand more about how the UK high street can lead the way in ensuring the long-term environmental sustainability of our planet.”

Commenting on the trial, Mark Cundle, CEO, at Austella, said: “Austella is delighted to be working with Costa Coffee to launch the trial of BURT and believes passionately in the role blockchain technology can play in helping businesses reduce their environment impact and make it easier for consumers to make sustainable choices.

'One quick scan of a QR code and Costa customers will be able to enjoy their favourite coffee in a reusable cup, before dropping it back for the next customer to use, reducing single-use waste.”

This initiative also comes as Costa Coffee prepares to participate in a broader initiative this autumn, from Keep Scotland Beautiful with other key coffee retailers, and in partnership with Glasgow City Council, to increase reuse and recycling rates in-store.

Barry Fisher, CEO at Keep Scotland Beautiful, said: “Glasgow has been the focal point for a raft of work to address cup waste, via our Cup Movement in Glasgow campaign, so we are delighted to see this innovative trial taking place in the city.

'Effective reuse solutions are essential to reducing waste, changing the way that we consume, and addressing the climate emergency.

'As the city prepares to host COP26, we look forward to supporting Costa with this initiative and stepping up consumer engagement with them and other retailers, working to facilitate the necessary transition towards more sustainable consumption.”