Reusable coffee mugs can be borrowed just like checking out library books

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BOULDER, Colo. – We have bike share programs, scooter share programs and now that same concept is being applied to coffee cups too.

Vessel Works launched in Boulder Wednesday morning. It allows customers to order drinks in stainless steel tumblers and keep the cups for up to five days before returning it to any participating location.

The program is free for customers.

“Their customers come in and they order their coffee and they may check out this Vessel instead of leaving with a paper or plastic cup,” Dagney Tucker, founder of Vessel Works, said.

According to Tucker, Boulder coffee drinkers go through about 44 million disposable coffee cups each year.

“The problem is it’s not recyclable and I think a lot of people don’t realize that,” Tucker said.

Tucker says most paper cups have a thin layer of plastic on the inside of the container. She says is too expensive for recycling plants to separate the plastic from the paper so they pile up in landfills instead.

Customers can request a Vessel at the counter of participating cafes. Each Vessel has a unique QR code that must be scanned using the Vessel Works app on your phone. You can keep the cup for five days before it must be returned to one of several special Vessel Works kiosks located throughout Boulder.

“It’s like a library. So you know the library if you never return the book they are going to ask you to pay for it and we’ll do the same,” Tucker said.

She says customers will be contacted if they keep their cup too long. If the cup is not returned, they will be charged a $15 fee.

Boxcar Coffee Roasters and Trident Booksellers & Café in Boulder are the first two establishments to provide Vessel service for customers. The company has plans to expand to at least two more cafes in the next few weeks.

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