Tallinn University of Technology

When buying food or a drink in almost all dining areas of the main building of Tallinn University of Technology, since December the 5th one can choose reusable packaging: a Cuploop box or a cup.

This fall, an average of 233 disposable food boxes per month were bought from the two large canteens of the TalTech. Now those can be substituted with reusable ones. Abandoning single-use packaging is a step towards TalTech's journey to climate neutrality. Single-use food boxes and coffee cups are not reusable, and their useful life consists of the minutes when a food or drink is in them - before that there are large factories and a lot of transport, after that there is a lot of transport and a landfill. "With reusable boxes, we significantly reduce our environmental footprint and act in a responsible manner," said Helen Sooväli-Sepping, Vice-Rector of Green Transition.

When food or drink is bought to go from TalTech cafeterias, it is now placed in a Cuploop reusable box or drink cup. The customer pays a deposit for the box: €1.25 for a cup and €2.25 for a food box. After the food is eaten or the drink is finished, the dishes can be put into the Cuploop return machine, which also returns most of the deposit - 1 euro for the cup and 2 for the box. 25 cents is the company service fee for the costs of washing and recycling the dishes. R-Kiosk remains an exception - there are no costs for the customer, 2 euros are paid for the box and 1 euro for the cup, and the return machine returns the same amount to the customer’s account as R-Kiosk pays for washing the dishes.

The cost for packaging food into a single-use box has thus far also been 25 cents per box, so the cost to the customer remains the same. In many places, takeaway coffee is cheaper if put into the customer’s cup rather than a disposable one. So the customer pays for the takeaway packaging in one way or another, the difference is whether they pay for throwing the cup in the trash or for washing it so it can be used again and again. Cuploop has calculated that when the box is on its tenth cycle, its carbon footprint is smaller than that of a disposable box.

Cuploop return machines can be found in the cafeterias of the main building (U01) and the economic building (SOC). Of course, you can also wash the box or cup yourself, take it home and use it elsewhere, in that case you will not get the deposit back, but you have bought yourself a nice box. There is also Ringo deposit box system in use in the campus.

Cuploop is a company created by TalTech alumni, working since spring 2021 for a plastic-free future. Last year, Cuploop helped prevent 17,422 single-use packaging and cups from ending up in landfills, and in 11 months this year, the score is already 26,649.

Next, the university plans to offer Cuploop cups when buying coffee from the coffee machines where disposable cups are still in use. Even then, the campus will not be completely free of single-use packaging, because eateries sell prepackaged salads and sandwiches, which currently still come in single-use packages.

Cuploop tagastusautomaat ülikooli kohvikus
It is sustainable to buy coffee with either your own cup or a pledge cup. In the picture, the Cuploop return machine in the UO1 cafe.