A greener way to drink coffee

Do you like getting free coffee? What about protecting the environment? Now there’s a way that you can do both right here at TU Delft.

Last spring, the Coffee-Star located in the Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science (EWI) building began using Engreenment, a programme that encourages customers to enjoy their favourite drinks in reusable containers instead of disposable cups. After every tenth order they receive a free beverage of their choice. Engreenment was created by two engineering students at TU Delft named Natalie Kretzschmar and
Jeroen Buter in 2015. “I was always studying in the library and I liked to get coffee,” Kretzschmar said. “But it really bothered me that there were only paper cups. It made me consider all of the trash I was producing so I started thinking about what I could do about it.”

She began bringing her own reusable mug to campus before she teamed up with Buter to brainstorm a programme that would encourage others to do the same. Buter designed a scanner capable of reading waterproof NFC stickers attached to reusable containers that can track customers’ orders while they work their way towards a free drink. They decided to call the programme Engreenment and contacted Coffee-Star about setting it up at one of their locations for a trial phase. Since its debut at the cafe in the EWI building it’s been a success. “We gave them 100 stickers,” Kretzschmar said. “And the last time we checked there were 30 left. Every time I was there people were bringing in their own mugs and that was nice to see.”

According to a recent report, TU Delft students and staff burn through an estimated five million disposable coffee cups every year. A recycling programme was recently introduced on campus but Engreenment offers a second alternative for those who would like to avoid disposable containers altogether. The programme is also being used at the Cafe Bar Trinkaus in Berlin and will soon launch at the Coffee-Star in the TU Delft library. Kretzschmar and Buter hope that Engreenment will be adopted by other cafes around Europe as well. “We want to get more places involved,” Kretzschmar said. “We have two more in Germany that are interested and we would like to see more cafes install it in the Netherlands too.”

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