Can Cities Find A Way To Stop Using Disposable Coffee Cups?

In Freiburg, Germany, a subscription service lets you take a cup from any participating cafe.

If you buy a cup of coffee to go in downtown Freiburg, Germany, you can choose to get it in a reusable cup. Ten or 15 minutes later, you can drop the cup off in a bin at a different café, where it will be washed and reused.

The new "Freiburg Cup" was sponsored by the city, which gave the cups and bins to a network of independent cafes. Customers pay a small deposit, which they get back when they return the cups.

"We think it is a good solution for customers who forget their own cup," says Renate Heyberger, a manager at a Freiburg student center with a participating cafe. The cafe already gives discounts to anyone who brings a reusable mug, but that incentive—like similar discounts at Starbucks and elsewhere—hasn't fully solved the problem.

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