Coffee Circular Economy Living Lab

Short description

Our idea is a circular economy Living Lab with reusable coffee cups for the Educatorium on the Science Park Campus.

Long description

Single use plastic has gotten quite some attention as it is the opposite of a circular idea. Many companies and the university as well have diverged from this to more sustainable options usually made from cardboard. Nevertheless, to make take away cups or containers for this still requires a lot of resources. Making the paper durable enough to hold food or hot liquids is energy demanding. Also, often layers of plastic or aluminum are integrated which makes recycling nearly impossible. Reusable cups can already be more ecofriendly than single use cups after 10x usage, depending on the materials (Garido & Del Castillo, 2007). Reusable polycarbonate cups perform best in life cycle analysis from an environmental point of view (Vercalsteren, Spirinckx & Geerken, 2010). Reusable cups can be the answer. They are made to last up to 1000 usages (recup, 2021) when they are handled with care. They could be stacked in the same way as single use cups and are also available in different sizes. Additional infrastructure is only needed in two aspects. There would need to be collection points and some capacity to wash the cups. Especially the last point is the reason why we chose the educatorium: it already has a kitchen. We would further like to include an education campaign on circuar economies to motivate students and staff to make use of the cups.

Scope of the project

If the reusable cup system in the Educatorium shows success, it would be possible to expand the system to the whole university. In cooperation with the catering team of the Educatorium it could be evaluated to what extent there are capacities to collect and clean cups from various campus buildings.


Funds will be required to buy or lend the reusable cups and to pay potentially additional staff for the necessary washing of the cups. Depending on the amount of cups required the costs will be different.

How do you envisage dealing with COVID-19 restrictions?

Covid 19 restrictions are of no worries as long as coffee facilities are accessible.


Utrecht University

Target audience

  • Students
  • Academic staff members
  • Non-academic staff members

Expected date to be completed


Team Leader Information

Name: Pia Winckler
Faculty/Department: Geosciences
Position: Student
Number of members of this group: 2

Do you want to join this group?

Apply here!

(It is compulsory to use the institutional address related to the home institution)
If applicable