New £1m fund looks to remove barriers facing reusable packaging

A £1 million fund has been launched by Hubbub and Starbucks in a bid to remove barriers to reusable packaging in the food and beverage industry.

The bring it back fund will look to enable innovative new ideas for systems that make it easier for customers to use alternatives to single-use packaging.

It will support pilot projects that help shift people’s habits through behaviour change, incentives, research projects, new technology, innovative applications of existing technology, expansion of existing successful reuse systems, or developing entirely new service models.

The launch of the fund comes on the back of Starbucks and Hubbub’s ongoing initiatives to drive the uptake of reuse – including the cup, cup and away campaign at Gatwick Airport, which gave customers the option to borrow a disposable cup in favour of a standard container.

Both organisations said they have hopes that the fund will also seek to address barriers to reuse identified in a 2019 Hubbub survey. It found that 29% worry reusable containers might not be clean or hygienic, whilst 31% think they may cost more, with 28% believing it is an inconvenience to carry a reusable container.

Alongside this, Hubbub said that reuse and refill have been set back by the Covid-19 pandemic – with one in five people worried about catching Covid from reusable items, such as cups and cutlery. This is in spite of a statement signed in 2020 by 125 scientists from across the globe to reassure both businesses and consumers that reusable containers do not increase the chance of virus transmission and are safe to use.

Hubbub and Starbucks confirmed that up to five projects will each receive grants of between £150,000 to £300,000 for a year, with applications open on May 11 and closing at 17:00 on June 24.

Gavin Ellis, director of Hubbub said, “We have all seen so much more single-use plastic in our everyday lives over the last couple of years that I think many people have become desensitised to it – it’s become the norm. We urgently have to tackle this major environmental problem and it’s crucial that we reassure the public that reusables – which are the main solution to this issue – are safe and easy to use and can save you money in the long-term.

“We’re looking for innovators with pioneering new approaches to challenge single-use packaging in the food and drink sector. If you feel you have a solution to support reusable packaging systems for food and drink products, and remove barriers for users and businesses, we want to hear about it.”

Alex Rayner, general manager at Starbucks UK, added, “We’re proud of our continued partnership with Hubbub and the launch of the Bring It Back Fund marks our next milestone together as we continue to explore new ways to inspire and encourage customers to reuse.

“As we work to make reusability the only option, long-term, the fund will provide solutions that will benefit the entire food and beverage industry. The launch of the fund will work in conjunction with Starbucks existing reusables work, including the 25p reusable cup discount, 5p cup charge, in-store recycling, and new returnable cup program, to advance widespread adoption of reusables as we work to become resource positive and reduce waste by 50 percent by 2030.”