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Smart returnable cup

Meet the next-generation returnable cup

Video: See the smart returnable cup solution in action

Easy for consumers. Easy for baristas. On-the-go, queue-free cup returns. The next-generation returnable coffee cup solution.

The returnable cup

Circular & Co‘s Circular Returnable Cup is the most sustainable, innovative, returnable cup on the market. With patent-pending heat diffusing ribs, it is designed and built to last. The cup can be used over 500 times, made from 100% recycled materials* and is 100% ‘real world’ recyclable at end-of-life.

The connectivity


Pragmatic‘s ultra-thin, ultra-low-cost, flexible integrated circuits (FlexICs) enable everyday objects to become smart and connected – the unique technology enabling the connectivity for the smart cup solution. Pragmatic is the most sustainable semiconductor manufacturer in the world.

Learn more on the returnable cup and technology

Why choose smart returnable cups?

Enhanced customer experience

Queue-free seamless returns

Actionable insights generated

Greater personalisation

Digital brand identity

Highly scalable


How big are FlexICs?

FlexICs themselves are just 30 microns thick – thinner than a human hair – so sit comfortably within any standard RFID inlay and label.

How do they attach to the cup?

They can be simply embedded in the base of cup. Their physical flexibility and ultra-thin form means you can add intelligence almost anywhere without impacting the product aesthetics.

How durable are they?

FlexIC-enabled RFID inlays have been tested against typical industrial wash protocols, withstanding myriad wash cycles without losing adhesion or functionality.

Aren’t microchips bad for the environment?

FlexIC production uses just a fraction of the power and water of traditional microchips, and significantly fewer chemicals and gases. In the case of a standard, 500ml PET bottle, a FlexIC would increase the total environmental footprint by less than 0.4%.

Why are they so good for returnable packaging?

FlexICs are significantly more cost-effective than traditional RFID solutions, allowing you to bring intelligence to a wider range of packaging. And FlexIC-enabled tags can be read quickly and easily – in any orientation or without a clear line of sight – enabling high levels of automation and system scalability.

What data can be obtained?

Through unique item-level identity, FlexICs support traceability and provide important insights such as number of successful reuse cycles, adherence to washing protocols and return rates. Item-level intelligence also enables prediction of supply deficits and bottlenecks, as well as accurate management of stock levels across the supply chain.

Could data be skewed by multiple scanning?

No. Information stored on the RFID cannot be readily replicated. Each unique asset identity ensures each item can only be scanned once before being returned.

Do I need new infrastructure to use them?

Typically, no. FlexIC-enabled RFID tags can be read by most commercial readers, as well as the vast majority of Android smartphones.

What about return logistics?

The unique item-level traceability provided by FlexICs is indispensable for streamlined return logistics, underpinning efficient scheduling of collections, product categorization and location management. It can even remove consumer uncertainty around returns by facilitating quick, accurate segregation at mixed-item collection points.

What else can they do?

FlexIC-enabled tags also create an opportunity for customer engagement beyond the point of sale, giving quick and easy access to product or packaging information, special offers or details of the nearest return point. Customers can even be rewarded for consistent or repeated packaging reuse by a simple credit mechanism, linked to their mobile device.

A digitalised circular economy of the future

Smart cup infographic

The infographic illustrates our vision of a digitalised circular economy of the future. FlexIC-enabled smart coffee cups are scanned by NFC readers at autonomous return points throughout the process, providing full traceability and live, actionable insights.

Download infographic (PDF)

Enabling smooth, queue-free returns

Smart cup deposit

Customers simply take their coffee cup to a digital return point without the need to approach a busy barista. The return point reads the cup’s identity using the embedded NFC technology, validating the return.

The digital platform offers options to the customer, including loyalty vouchers, donations, floating deposit of ‘cash out’ to the customers bank account, ready for their next purchase.

*rPP available for use in FDA regions, pending FSA/EFSA approval for use in UK/EU

Want to find out more? Get in touch!