Harry aims to reduce waste on campus

12 July 2018

Harry Hall '18, founder of UniCups

Harry Hall '18 has founded UniCups - a start-up aiming to reduce the waste produced from single-use food and drink disposables on university campuses.

By embedding Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chips in our reusable containers they can be tracked to a customers account. This scheme can complement the already secure library system Brookes and other Universities have and could eventually be integrated permanently.

When a staff member/student buys a coffee, they will need to scan their ID card and the cup is lent to them at the counter, just like a book from the library. When they are finished they return it to a ‘collector’ (a bin with an RFID reader in it) and it’s taken back off their account. UniCups will wash and return the cups to the cafe to be reused. If the cup is not returned a small fee will be charged to the account to replace it. This is a circular system replacing the single use plastic lined paper cups we currently use and throw away every day.

Harry got the idea when he was made to buy a reusable coffee cup at one of the cafes on campus.

“I should have been happy as they were trying to solve a problem we all have with waste but I wasn't. I told the server I already have a reusable coffee cup at home I don't want another. Why can't I just borrow the cup and give it back when I’m finished, that's what I’m doing with my library books?”

From that idea UniCups was created. Harry has now received funding from Brookes Enterprise Support to trial his idea at the Clerici Cafe in the first week of July. Harry reports the trial is currently going well and he is gaining lots of staff interest for his startup. He would like to thank all involved at the Brookes Enterprise scheme for the help and support and the kind emails he has received from staff from all departments.

“I even got mentioned by the Vice Chancellor in my graduation which was a great surprise and honour.”

If this trial proves successful a second larger trial will take place in August for other food/drink containers.

If you would like to know more about the scheme or can offer any advice or support to this new startup then please email Harry on harry.hall@uni-cups.com. Or follow @uni_cups on Instagram and Facebook for the latest progress.