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UWE Bristol and City to Sea raise a reusable cup to cut plastic pollution

The University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) and its Students’ Union has today confirmed that three of its coffee shops will be part of the Refill Return Cup scheme. City to Sea who are behind the Refill Return Cup is also announcing that it is due to go live across the city on World Refill Day (16th June). The innovative new returnable cup scheme will allow Bristolians to have their takeaway tea and coffee in a reusable cup which they can borrow from participating coffee shops for free and return to any participating outlet in the city.

Currently, more than 2.5 billion takeaway coffee cups are used and thrown away each year in the UK. That’s an astonishing 10,000 every two minutes. City to Sea estimates that if the Bristol Refill Return Cup was used by one in ten residents just once a week then 46,000 single-use cups would be saved across the city every week – that’s a massive 2.5 million single-use coffee cups a year.  

Currently, less than 1% of these single-use cups are recycled, while biodegradable substitutes have led to customer confusion and contamination of recycling systems. While reusable cups are slowly growing in popularity, they require the customer to remember to take it with them. The new Refill Return Cup will allow customers to choose to reuse on the spot as they purchase their coffee.  

Rania Regaieg, President of The Students’ Union, said: 

‘‘Joining the scheme represents a significant step in our commitment to sustainability and our journey towards net-zero. It’s a great way to make it even easier and more affordable for our students at UWE Bristol to cut down on waste and make more environmentally conscious choices”. 

Jane Martin, Head of Development at City to Sea added: 

“A small revolution is brewing in Bristol and we’re hugely excited to welcome UWE Bristol on board to be part of it. Our Refill Return Cup could transform how Bristolians enjoy their everyday brew. UWE Bristol and their students’ union have been really supportive as we work towards our shared goal of tackling plastic pollution and cementing Bristol’s reputation as the home of environmental innovation. We are thrilled to have the support of such a forward-thinking institution, and we look forward to working together to reduce waste and promote sustainable living.” 

Jo Dainton, Head of Circular Economy & Responsible Consumption at UWE Bristol, said: 

“UWE Bristol is excited to be part of City to Sea’s Refill Return Cup scheme; we see this as an important step towards reducing single-use coffee cups on campus, as well increasing reuse opportunities for both students and staff.” 

The Refill Return Cup is funded by the Bristol-based Ecosurety through their Ecosurety Exploration Fund.