Costa launches blockchain-powered reusable cup scheme

Posted: 30 September 2021 | | No comments yet

A new initiative known as ‘BURT’ will be trialled in Glasgow and inform a future UK-wide rollout of a reusable cup scheme.


Costa Coffee is trialling a new blockchain-powered reusable cup scheme in Glasgow, Scotland which it hopes will encourage more sustainable behaviours among consumers.

BURT – which stands for ‘Borrow, Use, Reuse, Take Back’ has been implemented in 14 stores across 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 these findings to optimise and develop a scheme that will roll out more widely across the UK in phases.

How does BURT work?

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 drink.

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 blockchain-powered Valari platform. The duo believe that this initiative will reduce the number of single-use cups, whilst also making it easier for customers who may have forgotten their reusable cups to still participate.

The BURT cups are made from stainless steel and can hold 8oz (Mini), 12oz (Small) and 16oz (Medium) drinks; and they also fit with the Costa Express machines.

coffee cup litter

The hope is that the new scheme will encourage consumers to use reusable cups and discourage litter and waste

“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,” Neil Lake, Managing Director, Costa Coffee UK&I, 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. 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.”

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

Commenting on this, 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.”

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