Returnable Cup System

Eliminating single use cups for good at Blenheim!

A world-class visitor attraction and UNESCO World Heritage Site, we are proud to collaborate with Blenheim Palace to eradicate single use cups.

After a successful pilot, our digital returnable cup system is rolling out across the entire Blenheim Estate

With visitor engagement, cup-to-cup traceability and rich data & insights, the system brings maximum impact and minimal hassle.

Our case study blueprint aims to help enable successful reuse schemes.

How it works – deposit return scheme

Visitors pay a ยฃ2.00 deposit for their cup at point of purchase which is refunded when the cup is returned.

No need to download an app or register before use. Visitors scan the unique QR code which automatically opens the returns platform with a frictionless scan and return user journey.

RFID tech allows for validation of cup return which means visitors can be refunded with certainty that the cup is back where it belongs.

Making an impact

“We believe climate change is the single biggest threat to Blenheimโ€™s long-term survival and weโ€™re committed to doing all we can to reduce and mitigate its impacts and help safeguard this World Heritage Site and its resources for future generations.

We serve over 400,000 hot drinks at Blenheim each year, so this new scheme has the potential to make a big impact.

As well as incentivising people to return their used cups, the initiative also helps us to analyse behaviour and better manage cup collection”

David Green – Head of Innovation

Digital Returnable Cup System

"We are delighted to be working with Blenheim Palace and Circular&Co. to help eradicate single use cups. The Digital Returnable Cup System uses pioneering technology to engage and incentivise visitors to return their cups for reuse - again and again and again... By giving each cup a unique digital identity using GS1 serialised codes with RFID tech for traceability, we can measure the return of cups and also relate this to behavioural insights and impact." Rachel Warren re-universe


We are collaborating with Circular&Co who are creators of the Returnable Cup and other circular products. The returnable cup is designed to last at least 5 years and is fully recyclable up to 6 times, meaning no new material is required for 9 years.

“After 3 uses, the CO2 emission of the Returnable Circular Cup are offset versus a single-use alternative. This means that huge amounts of CO2 never reaches our atmosphere”


Accurate data

Bringing the UK’s first digital cup deposit return system to Blenheim Palace. Each returnable cup has a unique QR code which, when scanned, automatically opens our returnable web-platform.

RFID technology embedded in the cup triggers various data points around the Palace and validates the return of the cup, refunding visitors deposit quickly and easily.

An API feed to Blenheim Palace delivers accurate data and insights on an easy to use dashboard so users can see where cups are within different locations and return points and understand return and reuse rates.

Visitors get their refund back into their account almost instantaneously upon cup validation.

Delivering cup-to-cup traceability with a platform that allows Blenheim to delve into cup circularity, visitor engagement and project impact.


Pilot learnings

We ran a 5 month pilot at Blenheim Palace before their full roll-out which highlighted the below learnings…

The most striking learnings were the need for a deposit return scheme. Despite the rewards offered, without a deposit users were not incentivised enough to return the cup.
A/B testing helped inform the right model (Deposit vs. Penalty charge) with users preferring a deposit due to ease of use.

Branded vs. non branded cup
For the pilot, the Blenheim returnable cup was beautifully branded. This meant they were viewed as collectable and more likely to be taken home as souvenirs. For full roll out the cups will be a standard brown colour with a bright orange lid to prevent collectability.

Marketing and comms
Impactful comms to strongly educate and engage in order to drive long term systemic behavioural change is essential.

The learnings gained from the pilot have informed the full estate roll out



We are known as pioneers in digital returns, having run 2 world-first Digital DRS projects in 2020/2021 and in 2022 we collaborated with Danone on an evian project at Wimbledon, reaching over 500,00 visitors. Our cup reuse project can be found at Blenheim Palace and is due to roll out this summer 2023.

Please get in touch and we can chat through how re-universe can work in your organisation.

1. Transforming consumer behaviour around reuse and recycling – the app incentivises and rewards consumers for good behaviour, whilst having the ability to bring transparency and traceability to the supply chain

2. Bringing incremental economic value through the recycled and re-used items – a true circular economy

3. Immutable, secure and auditable – tracking packaging end to end with smarter solutions

4. Capturing data and insights over time to understand consumer behaviour

5. Depending on the scheme, re-universe can work within existing waste management and infrastucture – reducing costs and carbon footprint

6. re-universe offers a real chance to accelerate change and make a positive difference

7. re-universe brings consumer ease to reuse and recycling

All of our live projects can be found on our website, we are working on a number of projects yet to appear so watch this space!

If you would like to talk to us about a potential collaboration please get in touch at

We are not currently raising funds through external funding rounds.

However, we are always interested in talking to potential investors, particularly those who can bring relevant knowledge and experience.

If you are interested in potentially investing in us then please contact us by emailing

With billions of single use coffee cups ending up UK in landfill every year, it’s encouraging to see the rise in returnable and reusable cup schemes.

There really is no excuse for single use – but for mass engagement and take-up reuse has to be easy and frictionless.

So what’s the answer?

We believe it is re-universe. Our pioneering digital returns platform drives behavioural change and brings rich data and insights.

Tried and tested at Blenheim Palace in collaboration with Circular&Co. and rolling out across the summer, over 95% of users have said the platform is easy/very easy to use.

If you are looking for a return-for-reuse cup scheme that offers the below benefits (and more!) then get in touch…

๐Ÿ˜ Consumer benefits
๐Ÿ‘ No need to download an app
๐Ÿ‘ No need to register bank details before use
๐Ÿ‘ Return simply through tech-enabled returns
๐Ÿ‘ Get deposit back into nominated bank account with minimal / no bank charges – quickly, easily, securely
๐Ÿ‘ Donate to charity or have a floating deposit that can be used again and again

๐Ÿ˜ Brand benefits
๐Ÿ‘ Behavioural change insights to drive returns
๐Ÿ‘ Validation of returns to reduce fraud
๐Ÿ‘ Rich data and insights
๐Ÿ‘ Cup-to-cup traceability
๐Ÿ‘ Measurable scheme
๐Ÿ‘ Multi-lingual and multi-brand
๐Ÿ‘ Future-proofed for scaleability

Want to find out more?
Drop us an email ๐Ÿ‘‰
We’d love to hear from you.

Deposit return schemes (DRS) are becoming more and more common all around the world. When you purchase a drink in a plastic bottle (in some cases glass) youโ€™ll be charged a small deposit at point of purchase. When you return the bottle for recycling, you will receive your deposit back.

How your deposit is returned to you is dependent on how the country runs their DRS. In some nations, youโ€™ll need to return the bottle to a Reverse Vending Machine (RVM) at a superstore or other retail location. In other countries, the bottle will need to be returned to a designated recycling point (like a council run tip or waste management site). Regardless of the location, the deposit is always able to be claimed back.

The UK government has announced a DRS will be introduced in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in 2024, with Scotland looking to introduce a DRS earlier.

re-universe have developed a system where deposits for beverage containers will be returned through an app that gives an instant reward or loyalty card style collection of points dependent on how the consumer wishes to be rewarded for recycling. This is known as Digital DRS and we are known in the industry as the Digital DRS pioneers.

We have run 2 World-first projects in Northern Ireland and Dublin and look forward to running more Digital DRS projects in the future.

We are really excited to be working with Blenheim Palace to eradicate single use, starting with cups, using our pioneering digital returnable cup scheme this summer, in collaboration with Circular&Co.

We couldn’t be prouder!

“We are rolling out a digital return-for-reuse cup scheme, eradicating single-use cups across Blenheim Palace. This important initiative eradicates single-use cups across Blenheim and reflects our commitment to becoming carbon neutral on scopes 1-3 of the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) protocol by 2027.

Visitors to Blenheim will be offered the choice of a ceramic or returnable cup when they purchase a hot drink. They will pay a deposit which they will get back when they return the cup for reuse.

Using pioneering digital technology from re-universe, there is no need to download an app or register before use. This was important to us because we want our visitors to be able to buy a coffee quickly and easily – without adding friction to their visit. When the cup is returned visitors are offered multiple options, including the ability to get their refund back digitally, donate to charity or other green initiatives.

We’ve been working with re-universe and Circular&Co. on this groundbreaking project for many months, which included running a pilot and learning and optimising in readiness for full rollout this summer.

We look forward to sharing lessons learnt and best practices to help other like-minded organisations jump on board and eradicate single use.”

David Green – Head of Innovation

re-universe technology is the cornerstone of many recycling and reuse projects that you may already be involved in! Please look at our website for more information.

Global smartphone ownership grows daily. According to recent research, in the UK 95% of all households in the UK own a mobile phone, with 78% of those using a smart phone and this number is growing fast.

Having an app based solution makes re-universe easy and convenient to use, however, for those without a smart phone, we have a home scan option.

re-universe uses GS1 global standards unique codes, or serialisation, which are placed on each individual item (either on the physical product or a receipt). We also use RFID technology for track and trace benefits.

Digitisation is without doubt the future of a true circular economy, allowing for traceability of waste, immutability, flexibility, rich insights and data โ€“ for cradle to grave accountability.

We are GS1 partners.

Contact us to find out more

If you are a business and want to find out more about our digital cup system, fill out the form and weโ€™ll get back to you as soon as possible.