Essex-based re-use scheme Delete Cups has secured £350,000 from angel investors to combat the issue of disposable cup waste.

With current re-use schemes, customers must typically download an app, register their details, pay a deposit on the cup then apply online to reclaim their money once they have returned it, or queue in-store.

With Delete Cups, no customer details are required and the deposit is automatically returned to the customer’s account when they drop the cup into any collection point.

Each cup contains an RFID [radio-frequency identification] chip and the system uses software that links this with the transaction at the till. The barista scans the cup when taking payment and once the used cup is deposited at the collection point, the chip is detected and the payment is automatically refunded.

Café owner and company founder Alastair Hood developed the system with his partners using equipment from RFID specialist CoreRFID.

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Hood has trialled the system in two pop-up cafés he runs and is reportedly in talks with other potential users in the UK and Europe.

Delete Cups has extended the current investment round and hopes to raise an additional £150,000 to help fund the roll-out.

Hood commented: “While people like the idea of recycling, current systems involve so much time and effort that it deters all but the most committed. We hope to play our part in getting rid of single cups altogether and powering the transition to a re-use economy.”

CoreRFID representative Richard Harrison added: “RFID technology is ideal for re-use or recycling applications. Because of its ability to track items and automate processes, it is possible to design friction-free systems. In this case, there is no need for humans to handle and log each cup because the readers will automatically detect them and the RFID tags are robust enough to withstand boiling coffee or dishwasher cycles.”