If you walk into Boxcar Coffee Roasters in Boulder, Colorado and order coffee, you can now use an app to check out a free reusable, insulated, stainless steel mug. The cafe is participating in the beta launch of a new startup, called Vessel Works, that is building a network of shared mugs–not unlike a bikeshare program–that can be checked out at cafes and later returned at kiosks. It’s an alternative to the billions of paper cups that end up in landfills each year, and a solution that the startup believes can gain adoption more quickly than attempts to ask people to carry their own mugs from home. “Getting behavior change to happen is not an easy thing,” says Dagny Tucker, founder of Vessel . “If we look at a community that’s considered very sustainably-minded, i.e., Boulder, Colorado, you’ll find that in a survey of local cafes, less than 10 people are bringing their own cup every day.” The startup chose Boulder for its official launch, which is beginning with four cafes and will scale to add more. Consumers use an app to participate in the free system (if someone doesn’t return a mug within five days, they’ll be charged […]

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