Bring It Back Fund Opens to Boost Reuse in the UK


  • A newly developed grant fund delivered by Hubbub and funded by Starbucks will support innovation and behaviour change to reduce single-use food and beverage packaging.
  • New research finds over 2 in 5 people are more worried about how much single-use plastic is used in society since the start of the pandemic.
  • Over 2 in 3 people want to reduce the amount of single-use packaging they use when buying food and drink products.

A £1 million Bring It Back Fund aims to increase reuse and remove barriers to reusable packaging in the food and beverage industry. The fund aims to enable innovative new ideas for systems that make it easier for customers to use alternatives to single-use packaging.

The Bring It Back Fund 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. Up to five projects will each receive grants of between £150,000-£300,000 for a year.

Development of the Bring It Back Fund has been informed by Starbucks and Hubbub’s ongoing initiatives to drive the uptake of reuse, including the Cup, Cup and Away campaign at Gatwick Airport, with further insights coming from new polling of UK adults to identify some of the most common barriers to reuse.

The fund will seek to address these barriers, which include misconceptions that it might not be clean or hygienic (38%), might cost more (31%) or is inconvenient to carry or store (28%). According to a 2019 UK study by environmental charity Hubbub, over a third (36%) of people don’t use a reusable cup every time they buy a hot drink because they simply forget their cup.

Alongside these ongoing challenges, reuse and refill have been set back by the Covid-19 pandemic, with 1 in 5 people worried about catching COVID-19 from reusable items like 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.

Despite these concerns, there is a clear appetite from the public to cut down on single-use plastics, with 41% of people more worried about how much single-use plastic is used in society since the pandemic started and 67% saying they want to reduce the amount of single-use packaging they use when buying food and drink products. 64% said they’d be open to borrow a reusable cup for a takeaway drink from a café or bar and then return it the returnable cup program is currently trialling in London, Paris and Geneva designed to make it as easy to use a reusable cup as it is to opt for single use.

Alex Rayner, general manager, Starbucks UK, said: “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.”

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.”

Projects will be selected by a grant panel, consisting of independent experts on the circular economy, sustainable packaging and behaviour change as well as Starbucks. More information about the Bring It Back Fund and how to apply can be found at www.bringitbackfund.co.uk

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