CupClub is a returnable packaging service for hot and cold drinks that utilizes technology to provide complete supply chain traceability, helping retailers reduce single-use plastic packaging through trackable products and an in-built loyalty scheme.
CupClub makes it easy to use reusable cups. Their cups are designed to be attractive, user-friendly, and keep contents hotter for longer. They are also ecologically mindful: made from recyclable food grade Polypropylene and LDPE, and with a lifetime of 250-1,000 uses, CupClub cups are better for the environment than single-use disposable cups.
CupClub tailors their service to meet the needs of their customers. In partnership with retailers, brands, catering companies and facilities management, CupClubs provides reusable cups to cafes, restaurants, self-serve stations and drink vending machines with the ultimate goal of zero-waste. CupClub also provides services for festivals and they are developing city-wide solutions for 2020.
CupClub and CupClub partner operators provide collection, tracking, washing and delivery to all CupClub users for a fee of $.25 and up per serviced drink on a 24 month contract, and their service is free and streamlined for cup users.
All CupClub products are BPA free, Food Grade and FDA approved. The CupClub cup is made out of 70% virgin material stock and 30% recycled material stock food grade Polypropylene (PP). The CupClub lid is made from Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE). Both cup and lid can withstand temperatures over 100 degrees Celsius, both contain an RFID tag for easy tracking, and both have a lifetime of 250-1,000 uses before needing to be recycled. Cups are stackable and work for both hot and cold drinks. Cup lids do not currently have a place to put a straw, but CupClub is willing to integrate this.
CupClub chose LDPE and PP plastics for their products based on the results of a comparative evaluation of the material performance, user experience, transport, maintenance, lifetime reuse, cost and recoverability of steel, aluminum, hemp, bamboo, bio-plastics, ceramics, glass and oil based plastics. Both PP and LDPE are fully recoverable and have a high resource value for end of life recycling.
CupClub cup cases are made from Polypropylene and can be used up to 4,000 times. They also contain an embedded RFID tag for easy tracking. Cases come in two sizes: one for 84 cups and 28 lids and the other for 84 cups and 84 lids.
All CupClub cups, lids, and cases are integrated with RFID tags so that they can be traced through their entire journey. To check out a cup, a consumer must sign up to the free CupClub platform. They can then take CupClub products from the point of sale and return them to any CupClub case or pick up bin, located at a network of drop off locations.
Pick up and drop off of cups is managed by CupClub or CupClub partner operators. Every time CupClub picks up the used units, they schedule a drop-off of fresh cups at the same time. Collection and drop off is done by truck, ideally in hybrid vehicles, and is coordinated to be as eco-friendly as possible. CupClub unpacks and washes products to restaurant hospitality standards, also ensuring that the minimum amount of water is used to clean the maximum amount of units. When washing, cups are visually checked for cracks, staining, bite marks and odors. If they fail this check, they are removed from circulation.
CupClub traditionally operates on a 5x stock inventory model. This allows for all customers to have a 2x stock at all times, and also gives operators enough time to wash and dry all products.
CupClub is also trialing an “app-free” streamlined version of their system so that users don’t have to download an app to check out a cup. Checked out cups will instead be linked to the customer payment card.
CupClub has enabled the set-up of self-serve stations next to office vending machines. They are looking into integrating the use of cups inside vending machines.
CupClub has rigorous training manuals and they train operators and customer teams through in-person one-on-one sessions. They also have one-page “cheat sheets” for baristas to use and a customer support feature of their digital platform for all stakeholders (operators, customers and consumers).
Each CupClub item is RFID tagged and can be traced through its entire journey. CupClub has live dashboards for all partners and onsite at each customer location, providing real time data on the location of each cup and lid. Customers can view how many cups and lids have been checked out, and how many items are with users and ready to go out.
As of April 2020, CupClub has recorded a month-to-month 1% loss rate for London customers in closed systems. In a recent retail environment pilot, a 5% loss was recorded over a 3 week period.
As of April 2020, CupClub has been operational in the UK for over 18 months and has served 400,000 drinks. They have contracts with Cushman & Wakefield and BaxterStorey, and will soon launch at Heathrow Airport. They’ve also recently launched a US pilot supported by NextGen Consortium, in Palo Alto, CA, partnering with two retailers in five stores.