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The smart returnable cup experience

Video: Streamlining the smart returnable cup experience

Watch the short video to discover how quick, easy-to-use and scalable the returnable cup experience can be – with customers, baristas and coffee brands in mind.

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.

The digital platform

re-universe‘s simple to use returns platform engages and incentivises users and ensures the returnable cups stay in the circular system for longer. Accessible via web-browser or app, its pioneering tech provides a deposit return scheme, rewards and donation options for the user and delivers data and insights to the brand.

Why choose digital returnable cups?

Customer experience

High quality cups provide a superior drinking experience, and the system is intuitive for busy customers.

Seamless returns

After use, customers simply return their cup to an automated return point at any store.

Actionable insights

Cups can be scanned by dedicated readers during its journey, providing analytics to enable efficient operations.


A connected cup can be linked to digital customer profiles to extend the personalised consumer experience.

Digital brand identity

The smart cup can be digitally branded to maintain its unique identity in multi-brand returnable cup schemes.

Easily scalable

Cups are fully traceable for accurate inventory management at scale, enabling leaner, controlled stock levels.

Discover how the solution could work for you

A digitalised circular economy of the future

Adding digital intelligence to reusable cups is critical to the success of a streamlined, scalable return process. Smart cups significantly improve the overall return experience by utilising NFC interaction and automation to remove manual pressure points from customers and company stakeholders, encouraging wider adoption and higher rates of return.

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 and queue-free returns

Customers simply take their coffee cup to a digital return point without the need to approach a busy barista.

The returns platform opens automatically (no need to download an app) so customers can easily return their cups. The return point reads the cup’s identity using the embedded NFC technology in the base of the cup, validating the return.

A successful return is recognised and the 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.

Cup Deposit Bin

Have a question? Want to learn more on the solution?

FlexIC smart cup versus QR code

The connectivity embedded within each FlexIC-enabled smart cup offers vast opportunities for customer engagement and, unlike QR codes, interaction does not require line-of-sight.

Smart cups can therefore support automation at each stage of the cup lifecycle to ensure simpler, validated and more secure returns at scale, keeping required resource to a minimum.


FAQs: FlexIC technology

Digitalised traceable packaging is critical to the success of reuse and circular systems. The status and condition of returnable items need to be monitored throughout their lifecycle, with dynamic data made available to consumers to incentivise scheme participation.

Our technology creates new capabilities in the circular economy by making individual items connected and intelligent. Our low-cost, flexible and durable chips enable multiple applications to provide effective mechanisms for recycling and reuse, which customers can engage with wherever and whenever.

Download FAQs (PDF)
Coffee Cup

Transitioning to smart reusable packaging

As concern mounts around the environmental impact of packaging, the pressure is on for manufacturers to move to reusable models.

Find out more

Technology enabling a more circular economy

At Pragmatic, we inspire new use cases and create new capabilities by making objects connected and intelligent.

Find out more

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