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TALKING POINTS

3,600 Down – and More “To Go”: Tackling Disposable Cups with Muuse

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The “Bring Your Own” movement has been all the rage, but the Taikoo Place community has recently embraced an even more innovative way to help cut single-use cups. As part of our SD 2030 Strategy effort, Swire Properties has taken the initiative to globally source solutions to promote circularity. The search resulted in our partnership with app-based start-up Muuse to provide reusable cups for borrowing at Pret A Manger and Ground PUBLIC in Taikoo Place. 

A first in Hong Kong, this “closed loop” smart reusable cup concept and network offers insight into how we can reduce waste not only as individuals, but also collectively. How does it work? Let’s find out with Muuse’s founder, Brian Reilly.  

Hi Brian! First things first, what is Muuse and how does it work?
BR: The idea is simple – you first register on our app, then visit one of our partner cafes to borrow a reusable cup, enjoy your drink, and return the cup after. People are used to the convenience of single-use items, so to change this, we offer a solution that’s easy to switch to and pleasant to use. 

How is Muuse different from other initiatives for waste reduction?

BR: It’s always difficult to ask people to change their behaviour and habits. But rather than guilt-tripping them into using this service, the cafes empower consumers to choose to reuse by incentivising them – with discounts on drinks, for instance – while we make the entire borrow and return process a seamless and positive one. Besides, it’s so much nicer to drink your coffee out of a premium reusable cup. It’s about shifting past our reliance on disposables without sacrificing convenience. As we say, change the world, not your day. 

 
“Even small changes to our behaviours sends a message to business and government that we want alternatives. Remember, every choice we make has an impact on the world!”
Brian Reilly
It really is convenient, especially when you don’t have your own reusable mug with you! Tell us, what inspired this innovative concept? 
BR: At the beginning of 2018, the world was quickly waking up to the challenges of our collective reliance on single-use plastics and I began thinking about what some possible solutions might be. It dawned on me that we already practice “reuse” in restaurants – and when you zoom out with that thinking, a city is just like a large restaurant. Add to the fact that with QR and RFID technology, smart logistics software and the rise of food delivery platforms, all the pieces were already there, and the missing component was someone to coordinate the existing stakeholders, which is how Muuse came to be. Three years and over 60 projects across five countries later, we have saved 48,000 single-use items from the landfill around the world!

And how has Muuse’s launch in Hong Kong been, so far? 
BR: We have been fortunate to work alongside Swire Properties as our launch partner in Hong Kong. It’s rare to find a premier corporate partner as outspoken about sustainability as Swire Properties. We are very optimistic based on the results the Taikoo Place community has achieved so far: with the help of Ground PUBLIC and Pret a Manger, Taikoo Place had already saved over 3,000 single-use disposables in just three months. Such data is encouraging, as is the positive customer feedback. 
 
There have been safety concerns about reusable containers. What hygiene measures have you incorporated to ensure cleanliness? 
BR:
 
Our cleaning partner, BottLess, ensures that sufficient hygiene measures are taken throughout the entire cleaning process. All cleaning staff are required to wear surgical masks, hair covers and gloves when at work. Our cups are washed, rinsed, and sanitised at high temperatures, and then sealed prior to being sent out to the cafes. 
 
Finally, in your opinion, what does the future hold for global movements that aim to eliminate disposables?  
BR: We’re starting to see governments consider sustainability in their built environments. China stopped importing waste for recycling in 2018, which motivates other governments to find alternative ways to manage waste, such as bringing in single-use taxes, which really levels the playing field for reusables. 

Of course, every stakeholder needs to take part in order for substantive and lasting change to take place. Even small changes to our behaviours sends a message to business and government that we want alternatives. Remember, every choice we make has an impact on the world!

Next time when you’re ordering a cuppa at Taikoo Place Eric Kayser, Ground PUBLIC , Pret A Manger, Nusty Coffee Bar or R&R Bagels, remember to borrow a Muuse smart reusable cup for free to support this meaningful initiative! 
 
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