Another UK first launched in Bristol last week with CanCan, a city-wide borrow and return scheme for hospitality, events and corporates.

Built around an app connecting users to smart trackable cups & food containers each fitted with a unique QR code, the innovative scheme gives traders and businesses cost-effective and easy ways to reduce their use of disposable cups and containers and help their customers to make more sustainable choices.

Can we use tech to reduce waste?

Each day Bristol alone uses a staggering 66,500 disposable coffee cups, over 24million per year, with only 1 in every 400 getting recycled. CanCan’s reusable cups are carbon saving after just three uses.

CanCan is the latest Bristol-born innovation to support the city as a pioneer for the reusables movement, following the success of the Voi e-scooter trials and just park & Olio. It can provide independent hospitality businesses with a cost competitive alternative to using single use disposable cups.

CanCan is working collaboratively with some of the best of Bristol hospitality to help them to get one step closer to zero waste and get maximum value from high volume and low value, typically disposable items, like cups and other containers.

A few of our local favourites, Hart’s Bakery, Alex Does Coffee, Five Acre Farm (Tobacco Factory), Mokoko and Little Victories, have all signed up to CanCan for their own free to use, reusable cup scheme.

The schemes are designed to benefit high street retailers, coffee shops, bars, bakeries and by offering corporate solutions to offices, festivals and stadiums.

Reusable & revamped ideas

CanCan is the brainchild of serial Bristol entrepreneurs – Jim Pizer, who founded the Thali Cafe chain of restaurants and Dan Wright, owner of Phineas Group, which manufactures sustainable products for retail.

Jim also launched the UK’s first reusable tiffin scheme in 2001, which built up 20,000+ users. Jim and Dan’s vision for CanCan is to create value in typically disposable items – these are often low-value, yet high volume and therefore not cost effective to recycle.

CanCan is about creating easy ways for people to share items that cost less than £10 to buy – from shopping bags to coffee cups and take away food containers.

Can Can, reusable container schemes for the food and beverage market. Bristol
Pictures Paul Box

Dan Wright, co-founder says, “With many old lifestyle habits having been broken in the last year or so, we think it is the perfect time to launch CanCan. It makes sense that the more we share, the less we waste and we want to make sharing second nature for everyone.

“We are starting with cups but there are so many other items that can be shared using our technology platform. It’s an exciting time for the ‘sharing of things’ movement and we are leading the charge for hospitality and retail right here in our home city.”

Customers access the borrow and return schemes by downloading the free CanCan app and finding their nearest participating trader or venue.

The next time they order a drink, the barista will scan their CanCan code and give them a returnable cup linked to their code. Once they’ve finished their drink, they can then use the CanCan app to locate the nearest return point. They only get charged if they don’t return the cup and CanCan has to replace it.

Jim Pizer, co-founder adds, “WWF recently predicted that the UK is set to throw away a third more takeaway drinks cups by 2030, as the second biggest users per person of single-use drinks cups, straws, food containers, crisp packets and wet wipes.

“We can’t let that happen and we believe that to turn this around, we have to make reusables a cost effective, easy and intuitive part of daily life for everyone.

“Bristol is the perfect launch location for CanCan. It is a hotbed of technological innovation and it is also a progressive city that cares about its environment.

“Working together with Bristol businesses we can give their customers new, innovative and less wasteful ways to buy their food and drink and we can showcase workable and thriving sharing economies to other UK cities.”

As well as the launch across five initial independent coffee shops, the scheme will also be running at this week’s Blue Earth Summit, a two-day networking event in Bristol showcasing the best and latest in sustainability.


Shona Wright

Shona covers all things editorial at TechSPARK. She publishes news articles, interviews and features about our fantastic tech and digital ecosystem, working with startups and scaleups to spread the word about the cool things they're up to. She also oversees TechSPARK's social media, sharing the latest updates on everything from investment news to green tech meetups and inspirational stories.