A £1 million Bring It Back Fund launched today by UK-based environmental charity Hubbub in partnership with Starbucks aims to increase reuse and remove barriers to reusable packaging in the food and beverage industry. The fund aims to enable innovative new ideas for systems that make it easier for customers to use alternatives to single-use packaging.
Hubbub conducted research into customer perceptions of reusable packaging. The organisation found that inconvenience, hygiene concerns and cost were key barriers to the adoption and wider use of this type of packaging. Some 38% of people expressed doubts about cleanliness or hygiene, 31% were afraid the cost would be higher and 28% said pointed to the inconvenience of carrying or storing the containers. According to a 2019 UK study conducted by Hubbub, over a third (36%) of people don’t use a reusable cup every time they buy a hot drink because they simply forget their cup.
Alongside these ongoing challenges, reuse and refill has been set back by the Covid-19 pandemic, with 1 in 5 people worried about catching Covid from reusable items like cups and cutlery. This is in spite of a statement signed in 2020 by 125 scientists from across the globe to reassure both businesses and consumers that reusable containers do not increase the chance of virus transmission and are safe to use.
Despite these concerns, public demand to cut down on single-use plastics is growing fast, with 41% of people more worried about how much single-use plastic is used in society since the pandemic started and 67% saying they want to reduce the amount of single-use packaging they use when buying food and drink products. 64% said they’d be open to borrow a reusable cup for a takeaway drink from a café or bar and then return it. The latter is something that Starbucks is trialling in London, Paris and Geneva this year.
“We have all seen so much more single-use plastic in our everyday lives over the last couple of years that I think many people have become desensitised to it – it’s become the norm,” said Gavin Ellis, director of Hubbub. “We urgently have to tackle this major environmental problem and it’s crucial that we reassure the public that reusables - which are the main solution to this issue – are safe and easy to use and can save you money in the long-term.”
The Bring It Back Fund will support pilot projects that help shift people’s habits through behaviour change, incentives, research projects, new technology, innovative applications of existing technology, expansion of existing successful reuse systems, or developing entirely new service models.
Up to five projects will each receive grants of between £150,000-£300,000 for a year. Applications open on 11 May 2022 and close at 17:00 on 24 June 2022.
“We're looking for innovators with pioneering new approaches to challenge single-use packaging in the food and drink sector. If you feel you have a solution to support reusable packaging systems for food and drink products, and remove barriers for users and businesses, we want to hear about it,” said Ellis
According to Alex Rayner, General Manager, Starbucks UK, the launch of the fund will work in conjunction with Starbucks existing reusables work, including the 25p reusable cup discount, 5p cup charge, in-store recycling, and new returnable cup program, to advance widespread adoption of reusables as the company works to become resource positive and reduce waste by 50 percent by 2030.
Projects will be selected by a grant panel, consisting of independent experts on the circular economy, sustainable packaging and behaviour change as well as senior representatives from Starbucks. More information about the Bring It Back Fund and how to apply can be found at www.bringitbackfund.co.uk