A deposit-return ‘CoCup’ pilot in Dublin City

The CoCup pilot initiative by Dublin City Council aimed to test the social acceptability of a deposit and return scheme for reusable coffee cups. The issue of single use plastics, and in particular single use coffee cups, has gained public attention recently, both nationally and internationally.

The initiative was in collaboration with Dublin City University, Trinity College Dublin and 2GoCup Ltd. The pilot was launched in April 2019 at three locations – Dublin City Council’s main restaurant, and cafes in DCU and TCD.

Under the scheme, when someone purchases a hot beverage, there is an additional charge of €1 – a deposit for the cup. When they return their cup, they get their €1 back. In addition, customers can purchase a lid for €1 – this is theirs to keep and reuse – it is not returned with the cup. The cup can be used within the cafe or can be taken off site.

Once finished, the customer has two choices:

  • Return the cup (to any participating café ) and get their €1 back
  • Swap it for a fresh beverage in a clean cup at no additional charge

After the launch (which saw a significant take-up of the service), overall engagement grew by approx. 10% per month. As the roll out matures and the understanding of the model increases it is expected that the percent returns will increase.

A case study is available here which outlines both the customer and operator experiences with the pilot.