BYOC - Bring Your Own Cup!


There’s a growing demand for reusable cups during the Festival, we invited B Cup – whose vision is to develop and implementing a reusable cup scheme for festivals – to trial their cup that you keep at Assembly Room which ran over three days. We caught up with them about how the trial went! 


There was no need to open with a sardonic comment about the weather as it ricocheted between sun and horizontal rain. “Single-use” had been Collins Dictionary’s word of the year for 2018, and in 2019 it was still a guaranteed conversation starter. “This Has to Stop.” The near-ubiquitous response we heard to the ubiquitous use of single-use plastic at the Edinburgh Festival.

For three days, my colleague Denny and I were camped at Assembly Festival’s George Street bar conversing with Fringe goers about disposable plastic cups. We were on a fact-finding mission to understand what kind of reusable cup design and system could work for the festival. With lots of different pop-up bars across the city selling millions of drinks every August, designing a low-impact system is a significant challenge. Full life-cycle thinking is absolutely necessary: carbon emissions and material use in manufacture; carbon emissions and water use in transport and cleaning; and then recycling at end of life.

63% of the people we talked to own reusable cups for hot drinks*

Our reusable cup trial focused on customer use and behaviour. Did people prefer to own their cup or to rent it? What features should it have? How often should it be washed? Existential questions also popped up – was it a cup, a glass, or indeed a beaker? One thing people could agree on - it wasn’t a mug.

92% of people we talked to are prepared to buy a reusable bar cup rather than using the current disposable plastic cups*

Having missed its usual slot as an opening gambit, the weather was still intent on playing a role. As the wind swiped people’s drinks off tables the sturdier trial cups spilled not a drop of Chardonnay or gin. Next the rain made its unwelcome appearance, and one customer muttered about wanting a lid as his drink was getting diluted. Design feature #1 was clear: contains drinks in all weathers.


Hester Robertson and Denny Schenk are founders of Edinburgh based B Cup, a start-up company that is designing a reusable bar cup for festivals and events. They spoke with over 100 people at Assembly Festival’s George Street bar about reusable bar cups. Although a bottomless cup was a strongly desired feature it probably won’t feature in the initial design.

Follow them on twitter @BCupUK


*Participants surveyed during the three day trial in August 2019