Cup-lending startup AYA solves plastic issue for coffee stores?

September 16, 2019 | 16:02
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The appearance of AYA, a startup specialised in lending cups, is expected to resolve the single-use plastic issue of coffee store chains.
cup lending startup aya solves plastic issue for coffee stores
AYA was officially launched in August in Ho Chi Minh City

Instead of bringing tumblers or using single-use plastic cups for takeaway drinks, customers can now borrow AYA cups for a deposit of VND50,000 ($2.17) which they can get back after returning the cups at 20 coffee stores that entered into co-operation with AYA.

“Some customers told me that they found lugging along their tumblers every day inconvenient. And they are busy all day, so they keep forgetting the tumblers,” said AYA’s founder Le Thuy Linh. “Therefore, the launch of AYA aims to help them better protect the environment and take away their guilty for constantly using single-use plastic cups.”

In fact, similar services have been popping up in developed countries like in Germany where they drew more than 2,500 coffee stores and restaurants on board. Learning from the model, Linh started AYA in Vietnam in late 2018. As of August 15, the startup was officially launched in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 2. Accordingly, more than 20 coffee stores have partnered with AYA to carry out the new service.

“Some young people have shown a great deal of interest and are now getting used to borrowing cups in their local café,” said Linh.

For now, coffee stores working with AYA are not charged additional fees – they only need to collect the cups and the deposits, and wash the returned cups to hand out for the next customer. AYA’s staff visit the stores each month to check and refill the store's cups.

Linh said that stores could make sizeable savings by partnering with AYA, even if the startup will charge fees in the future. The cost of a plastic cup and a straw is around in VND2,000-3,000 ($0.087-0.13). “We intend to charge VND600,000 ($26) per month, which comes to only VND20,000 ($0.87) per day, much less than what they spend on plastic cups and straws.”

As of the end of 2019, AYA set the target of partnering with 100 coffee stores. However, approaching large chains is seemingly out of reach until the startup can perfect its system and answer concerns relating to stock control.

Linh said that she keeps finding strategic partners who can help AYA reach higher, after successfully calling investment from the Vietnam Silicon Valley in May, 2019.

By Van Anh

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