Deposit Return Coffee cups in Dublin City.

Dublin City Council in collaboration with Dublin City University, Trinity College Dublin and 2GoCup Ltd. launched the pilot Co-Cup Deposit and Return Scheme in the City Council’s Civic Offices, Wood Quay in April 2019. 

The issue of disposable/single use plastics has garnered national and international attention in recent years. A recent government funded study estimated that up to 200 million single use coffee cups are used in Ireland every year and these are not recyclable, that is 22,000 cups every hour. The Co-Cup Scheme aims to reduce this figure by implementing a deposit and return scheme for reusable cups in Dublin.

The pilot project which is funded LAPN and run by 2GoCup Ltd will initially be rolled out in a number of locations including campuses at Dublin City University, Trinity College Dublin and in Dublin City Council’s Civic Offices.

Under the pilot scheme when someone purchases a tea/ coffee, there is an additional charge of €1 – a deposit for the cup and when they return their cup they get their €1 back. A lid can also be purchased for €1, which can be kept and re-used.

Fionnghuala Ryan, Executive Environmental Scientific Officer, Dublin City Council said” The City Council is delighted to be involved in this exciting pilot project. With funding from the EPA’s Local Authority Prevention Network, Co-Cup hopes to be the beginning of the deposit and return revolution in Ireland. We want to prove that it can be done and to drive behaviour change.”

The President of Dublin City University, Professor Brian MacCraith commented “I’m delighted that two of Dublin’s universities, one young and one not so young, are coming together with Dublin City Council to provide a leadership example for our shared city. The Co-Cup initiative is an innovative and practical measure that will enable every citizen to play a central role in reducing waste and contributing to sustainability. Solutions such as this will also help DCU to achieve its commitment to become the first university in Ireland to phase out single-use plastics.”

Michele Hallahan, Sustainability Advisor, for Trinity College Dublin commented “This is a truly a collaborative project between Trinity College Dublin, Dublin City University, and Dublin City Council and very much in keeping with Trinity’s Disposable Plastic Plan and other Circular Economy initiatives which contribute towards a more sustainable campus. The climate crisis needs to be addressed through collaborative rather than competitive forces, and this is a collaboration we’re delighted to be involved in.”

Kevin Murphy, CEO and Founder, 2GoCup Ltd said “2GoCup is delighted to partner with some of our leading universities and Dublin City Council in rolling out this sustainable initiative together. It’s fantastic to see such progressive steps taken to tackle single use cups and we look forward to it continuing across our city and further afield.” 

The project team hopes that the pilot scheme will test the social acceptance and business case for a deposit and return scheme in Ireland and that lessons learned will allow them to learn how to progress this project beyond the pilot stage.

Co-Cup Deposit and Return Scheme

The pilot project will be rolled out in a number of locations:

  • Dublin City University – 8th April 2019 – In coffee docks across the DCU campuses, including the Food Box at Sports Complex on Glasnevin campus.
  • The Library on St. Patrick’s campus and Osmosis
  • Talent Garden on the DCU Alpha campus,
  • Trinity College Dublin – 8th April 2019 – The Buttery Cafe and Aras an Phiarsaigh
  • Dublin City Council’s – 29th April 2019 – Staff Restaurant (there are over 1,600 Staff working the building)

The project team are working with 2GoCup Ltd., who are managing the supply of the cups, lids, IT Infrastructure and communications for the pilot project.

How does the Co-Cup Scheme Work?

When purchasing a tea/coffee, there is an additional charge of €1 – a deposit for the cup. 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

The main objectives of this project are to:

  • reduce the use of single-use cups
  • implement a deposit and return scheme for reusable cups, providing a tested, measurable solution to reduce the volume of single use cups, testing the business case and social acceptance of the approach
  • to identify and implement a communication strategy to support the deposit and return scheme
  • to measure and understand the behavioural shift through managed interventions and assessment of their environmental impact – both quantitative (actual volume of cups removed) and qualitative (user behaviour and feedback).

The Cups  

The cups are stackable, requiring no additional space compared to single-use cups. Once returned, the cups will be washed after which they can be restacked.

The pilot will also investigate the volume of circulation of cups within specific locations, within individual organisations and across the network.

Similar schemes are operating very effectively in several cities in Germany where more than 1300 coffee shops (, the United States ( and the UK (

A case study on the Dublin City pilot is available here.