Does Burger King coffee cup DRS pass the Gen Z test?

Neon signs for Burger King

I’m a great advocate of returnable packaging systems. And anything that encourages Gen Z to take part in the scheme.

On the surface, the recent initiative from Burger King in Germany seems to be a good one, based on a simple closed loop. You buy your drinks in a RECUP container, pay a deposit which you get back when you return the cup on your next visit. The cup is then cleaned and returned for another customer to use.

However, I’m not convinced.

  1. Is 1 euro enough of an incentive for Burger King customers? Many drinks are bought on the go. Will I take it straight back to the restaurant? Maybe, but possibly not if I’m out with my mates and we’re miles from where we started.
  2. If I take it home, will I remember to take it back when I next go to Burger King? I know how often I go to the supermarket only to find I’ve left the soft plastics at home again!
  3. There is still a single use paper sleeve, which “is thought to be recyclable for up to 25 further cycles in existing wastepaper streams.” Presumably, it stays on the cup and Burger King recycle that too or am I expected to recycle the sleeve myself?

Is there a better way?

I can’t help thinking it would still be better if we all simply owned a reusable mug and took it with us whenever we wanted to buy a hot drink. Even my local church offers to put coffee in your own mug.

At least this is a rollout. I’m struck by the last paragraph of the article. There seem to be lots of pilots of reusable schemes going on. Lots of pilots, not many of which become mainstream.

And this is where I fear so many great ideas fall down. They start from the perspective of what works best for the retailer not the consumer. What would motivate a young man who eats fast food regularly to return his coffee cup? Not, I suspect, the prospect of getting 1 euro back.

I hope this scheme is a roaring success, but perhaps Burger King should get Gen Z to design its returnable packaging schemes.

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