Reusables In Action - Aug 2020


Reusables Are Back At Starbucks

Concern over hygiene and plastic pollution are high, reusable containers for takeout and delivery continue to steadily grow, and coffee shops are sharing how they serve contactless coffee in customers reusable cups. Here’s the review of reusables for August 2020...


Consumers attitudes towards single-use plastic has appeared to fallen slightly in fear of COVID, finds a Dalhousie University study. Detailed in our recent post "Canadian Consumers Support Single-Use Plastic Packaging Reductions", the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University recently published some survey figures in their report Plastic Food Packaging: Before and After COVID-19. The aim of the survey was to understand how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted Canadian consumers’ attitudes towards single-use plastic food packaging.

  • The percentage of respondents actively shopping for non-plastic packaged goods is essentially unchanged, from 58% in 2019 to 60% in 2020. 

  • 2020 results see small but measurable decline in concern (from 91% to 87%), and in consumers’  motivation to avoid plastics (from 89% to 85%) - but with steeper declines among men.

  • 29% of respondents feel they are buying more plastic packaged goods during COVID. Women are more likely than men to buy more plastics (34% vs 25%). Young people are particularly buying more – with 47% of 18-25-year old and 34% of 26-39-year old reporting more plastic packaging consumption.

  • 55% of respondents are more concerned about food safety since COVID – particularly female, urban, and respondents in BC and the Atlantic.

  • 40% of respondents consider new safety concerns during COVID to be either “very important’ or “extremely important” to their decisions about buying plastic packaged goods.

  • In 2020, support for stronger regulations has declined by 11 percentage points to 79%, and support for a ban is down 12 points to 58%.

  • 52% of respondents agree that any new regulations should wait until after COVID is resolved.


Across Canada, patio season has sprung up on sidewalks, roadways and parking lots to allow for restaurants to serve in open-air formats. At DreamZero we worked with patios to help them source reusable plates, bowls and cups to help them deliver great dining experiences while cutting the waste.

Reusable Dishware On Patios

Despite these small successes, Toronto's patios have largely converted to disposable containers for eat-in food and beverage, and most cafes serving REEGO and WiseBOX have temporarily paused these services.


Looking at Universities and Colleges, there's a few schools that are pausing their schools reusable container programs, Including Toronto's Ryerson University, and:


Meanwhile, there's also a healthy number of schools who've decided to launch or continue with their existing reusable container programs in their cafeteria's, such as:


Moving to coffee, the big coffee chains (Tim Hortons, Starbucks, Duncan Donut) still deny service of customers reusable cups in North America, many small chains continue to honour customer brought cups and have evolved their service to assure their is no touching or cross-contamination, including wiping surfaces before and after with a disinfectant, and having customers place their cups in an area easily reachable by baristas so they don't need to handle the cup at all.


In our post "Our Summary of the Greenpeace USA Report: Reusables Are Doable" we outline some of the resources and tactics currently being used by cafes around the world to prevent cross-contamination.


The Greenpeace USA Report, Reusables Are Doable, outlines how cafes are embracing increased awareness about sanitization and draws lessons from the most trusted refill systems currently in use, including MUUSE, CupClub, and Vessel.


Major lessons taken from the report include:

  • On June 22, Greenpeace USA and UPSTREAM released a letter now signed by 130 public health and medical experts from 20 countries agreeing that reusables can be used safely during the pandemic by employing basic hygiene and contactless systems

  • On a recent webinar about reuse during the pandemic, TerraCycle and Loop CEO Tom Szaky said, “We are inherently swimming in reuse.” He noted that people already trust dentists and the medical industry to sanitize medical equipment before it is reused. That same trust is and must continue to be bestowed on companies and restaurants to sanitize reusables, and businesses and governments have a role in educating the public about the safety of reuse.

  • There are four basic reuse models: refill at home, refill on the go, return from home, and return on the go.

  • Many to-go reuse models are for cups and/or containers, such as CupClub,Vessel, and MUUSE which can be used at participating vendors. Customers pay for the cup or container with a deposit and return it after use for a clean one. This obviates the need for disposables and prioritizes sanitization.

  • Bringing your own cups and containers is still a viable choice with the proper contactless protocols (e.g., City to Sea, Plastic Free Places, Takeaway Throwaways)

  • There are many protocols for contactless systems for menus, payment, reuse, and refill.


Please follow this link to read the Greenpeace USA report, or see the file below.



In the EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Asia) markets, Starbucks has began to serve reusables and have launched a "Reintroduce Reusables"campaign that includes a new contactless standard operating procedures that reduce the chances of cross contamination.

Their August 7th blog post "Starbucks is Ready to Reintroduce Reusables across EMEA" details their process which has 8 steps:


Step 1 - Customer shows barista the type of cup, and the barista checks it from a distance for obvious signs of cleanliness. No information is given as to what exactly baristas are trained to look for and if they will turn down service if a cup is deemed un-servable.


Step 2 - Customer keeps their lid - this step has long been the standard for serving reusables at Starbucks.


Step 3 - Barista places a large sized mug with a print out of the order on the side in front of the customer on a designated counter space. This mug is large enough to fit most sizes of reusables and, fits in the dishwasher used by baristas.

Step 4 - The barista prepares and serves the beverage into the customers cup without physically touching the cup, or having any contact with machines, tools, surfaces or the customers cup.

Step 5 - Barista places the beverage on the counter for the customer to collect.

Step 6 - The customer enjoys their beverage, and shares their experience with friends.


Check out the blog post for yourself: Starbucks is Ready to Reintroduce Reusables across EMEA


To learn of more contactless serving strategies, check out our post "Our Summary of the Greenpeace USA Report: Reusables Are Doable".



Other news stories that caught our eye in August:


Chile's reusable container pioneer Algramo is testing refill kiosks in New York


Consumers are preparing more food at home, and are looking for reusable containers that help food last longer - Sales spike for container sets that keeps produce fresh for longer — here's where to get yours


Starbucks launches a reusable 'Circular Cup' in the UK which is made from six single-use paper mugs


Plastic Free Chesterfield's Summer of Refills campaign


Open Farm is First Pet Food Brand Joins Loop


Procter & Gamble Plans To Go 100% Recyclable By 2030


Kroger commits that its private labelled brands will be 100% compostable, recyclable or reusable by 2030 within their 2020 Environmental, Social & Governance (CSG) Report.


The Brick Oven Cafe in Pila, Philippines has been making international headlines for its approach to reusable containers for their Pizza and other creations :)


Overall, we at DreamZero are excited for the future of reusables in Canada and around the world and although there has been a few setbacks, we strongly believe that reusables will bounce back stronger than ever!


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