Coffee cup loan business launches in Exmouth Market to drive down waste

Polycup has launched in Exmouth Market and nearby cafes.

Polycup has launched in Exmouth Market and nearby cafes. - Credit: Archant

Two coffee addicts who were “revolted” at the amount of takeaway cups being binned on a daily basis have come up with a loan scheme – and are trialing it in Exmouth Market cafes.

PolyCup was founded by Daniel Do Thoi and Abhi Shah after they discovered only one in 400 coffee cups are recycled.

In the UK alone, almost seven million disposable coffee cups go in the bin every day. Most are made of a dual-lined wall of paper and a thin plastic coating, which can be recycled independently but cannot be easily separated.

Now, though, anyone who visits Brill, Briki or Sweet in Exmouth Market, or The Clerkenwell Kitchen or The Print Canteen nearby, has the option of borrowing one.

"We're both avid coffee drinkers," Daniel told the Gazette. "And we see a lot of waste. We've been learning more about the recycling issues and started looking around to see what other methods we could try out to reduce it."

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A lot of people now carry their own reusable cups, but Daniel says for some people they are an inconvenience.

He said: "You have to wash it and carry it every day, which for us was a barrier. Some people do that and that's fine, but we find that the amount of people using them is five to 10 per cent, and we think the amount of people who want to reduce their environmental footprint is higher than that."

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The way PolyCup works is when ordering, the customer can simply ask for it in a PolyCup, for which they pay an £1 deposit.

When they take it back, they can either swap it for a fresh one or return it and get their money back.

The cup itself is made in the UK out of 100% recyclable plastic, is built to last hundreds of washes and after seven servings will have reduced the CO2 footprint by half compared to using a disposable cup.

"We're trying to make a difference," said Daniel.

The trial started at the beginning of October. The independent cafes were chosen because chains were less receptive to the idea, with some saying the branding on their own cups was too important to lose.

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