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Reusable Takeout Container Series Example: REFILL IT

In Germany, over 2.8 Billion Coffee Cups go into the landfill annually, whoa!!
In steps El Rojito, they've been selling/roasting coffee for almost 30 years in Germany with a fair trade producer directive. The reusable cup program, REFILL IT, is meant to be an extension of the companies ethical culture. The cups are available at a number of cafes and restaurants within downtown Hamburg, Germany.

Their Unique Selling Points Are:

NO WASTE: Enables cafes to offer a reusable cup, thus potentially less on-site waste.

CONVENIENCE: Pick it up at your fav cafe, and leave it at your fav cafe. If you have to take it on the go then bring it the next time.

HYGINE CONSCIOUS: Still concerned about hygiene even though it was washed? There’s an option to buy your own fitted lid, so you don’t have to worry about where the rim of the shared mug has been.

ECO FRIENDLY: Cups are suitable for hot and cold drinks and are resistant to breakage, scratching and impact as well as free from crude oil, BPA, plasticizers and pollutants.

The Service Works Like This:

  1. Customer shows up at a participating Cafe or Restaurant,
  2. Customer is offered a REFILL IT Cup, they pay € 1.50 to burrow an eco-friendly returnable cup. In addition, you can buy your own lid with mouthpiece and the red felt. 
  3. Drink the coffee. 
  4. Then you have two options: refill the cup in one of the cafés or return the cup for your deposit of € 1.50. If you bought the lid you may keep the mouthpiece and the red felt for hygienic reasons.
  5. The participating restaurateur, who takes back your cup, washes it in a commercial washer and returns the cup to the circuit. 
  6. El Rojito exchanges worn cups regularly and provides the logistics for the partners.

Cafe locations are accessed through Website, here are a few images to show how this is displayed:

Vendor names and locations are marked on a Google Maps embedded into the website.

When a location is selected their Google Profile pops up on the left.


The German Environmental Aid has recalculated and found that in Germany around 2.8 billion Coffee To Go cups are consumed each year. Each German uses therefore 34 disposable cups within a year. This is about 7.6 million disposable cups a day and equivalent to 320,000 pieces per hour.

For a quick coffee enjoyment, 43,000 trees have to be felled every year, since 29,000,000 tons of paper are needed each year. This translates to around 64,000 tonnes of wood. To make paper you also need a lot of water. It requires around 1.5 billion liters of water to produce 2.8 billion disposable cups a year.

Then there are 1,500 tons of polyethylene used for each standard cup and 9,400 tons of polystyrene for the disposable lids. Production generates almost 111,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions . And if the coffee in the disposable cup is drunk, then what about it? Of course, just in the trash. The Müllberg and the disposal is not only a huge topic for the city cleaning Hamburg, but nationwide. Nearly 40,000 tons of garbage are produced in the Federal Republic of Germany for quick coffee enjoyment.

More on the REFILL IT program:

Website for the REFILL IT program:

Not to be confused with Refill Hamburg for free water fill ups

Germany Experiments With Reusable To-Go Coffee Cups

New German Program Makes Reusable Coffee Cups More Convenient


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