Reusable cup scheme in Norfolk’s seaside town of Hemsby


Dr Jin Hooi Chan, Associate Professor of Sustainable Strategy, Innovation and Entrepreneurship at University of Greenwich, Dr Jacqueline Zavala, FACET Senior Project Officer at Norfolk County Council and Dr Nadine Leder, Lecturer in Logistics and Operations Management at Cardiff University, take you through the key processes used to implement the reusable cup scheme launched in Norfolk.

As part of the FACET 2Seas Interreg project, which aims to support entrepreneurs in their transition from linearity to circularity, Norfolk County Council and Great Yarmouth Borough Council have successfully introduced a reusable cup scheme at their beachside village of Hemsby in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk.

The joint purchase project, which involves eight local businesses and the local councillor, has been accompanied by the University of Greenwich as a knowledge and research partner. The idea of reducing single-use plastic packaging was initiated as the local seaside village of Hemsby noted a rise in plastic waste in their community.

Feedback from the community revealed that on-street litter bins were overflowing with bulky take-away packaging during the summer season. Furthermore, the council realised a change in customer behaviour with an increased intake of takeaway packaging since the pandemic.

With the European Regional Development fund of the FACET project, the town of Hemsby was able to launch a joint purchase reusable cup scheme in their effort towards a zero-waste beachside. The joint purchase was prepared over seven phases, which included, amongst others, the idea generation, acquisition and building of the local joint purchase group, followed by the selection of suitable cups, up to its final launch in April 2022.

Norfolk County Council has successfully introduced a reusable cup scheme at their beachside village of Hemsby in Great Yarmouth.

This process has been successful thanks to a local champion’s significant contribution to bringing everyone together to achieve this goal.

Cup scheme
FACET – 2Seas Interreg Project reusable cups.

How does it work? The circular deposit return scheme allows customers to buy hot beverages in reusable cups. The customer pays a deposit of £2, which is retrieved once the cup is returned to any participating businesses in this joint purchase project.

The launch event took place shortly before Easter and was an opportunity for the businesses to come together, collect the cups and discuss any queries and challenges. Reflecting on the first summer period with the cup scheme running, the use of single-use plastic cups was slightly reduced.

One factor contributing to this was the geographically concentrated and close-knit community, which allowed the businesses to communicate and build up effective and trustworthy relationships. Upon reflection with businesses, the model may develop into a keep-cup scheme where visitors can keep the cup as a souvenir to reduce the time pressures of cleaning the cups for these small businesses.

More consultation with Destination Management Organisations (DMOs) and Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) is necessary to understand how this model can be upscaled and transferred to other areas locally.

If you are interested in launching a circular cup scheme or any other circular practices in the Tourism and Leisure sector, contact Assoc. Prof Jin Hooi Chan, or Dr Nadine Leder, visit the FACET website, or follow the project on LinkedIn. Details about Hemsby Cup Scheme can be received by contacting Dr Jacqueline Zavala from Norfolk County Council.

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