Going green with a cup : Bring Your Cup
Going green with a cup : Bring Your Cup
  • Lim Ye-ju
  • 승인 2015.11.27 13:17
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These days, most people own at least one tumbler. This has become a trend to the point where people line up from 4 a.m. in the morning to get a limited edition tumbler from famous café brands. However, compared to the amount of tumblers owned, one seldom sees people lining up in cafés, asking for their drinks to be served in their own tumblers. A social venture business, Bring Your Cup (BYC), makes efforts to fix this habit and put these rarely utilized tumblers into good use.
Established in 2012, BYC is a business which aims to create a culture where people use their own tumblers in cafés instead of disposable cups. It originally started off as a mere campaign, but was soon established as a proper business by Kim Young-jun, the current CEO of BYC. He is a former businessman with a stable income, who regarded his company life quite mundane. After quitting his job, he met several of his friends interested in environmental issues. They participated in various environmental campaigns, which he found to be much more interesting than a routine company job.
“Eventually I decided to establish a proper business with the ideas from my campaign, which was to promote the usage of tumblers,” Kim shared. “I thought it carried enough importance to be a business as it is one of the few ways to impact the environment efficiently through individual actions.”
The main service BYC provides is allowing customers to buy coffee at a discounted price when they bring their own tumblers. BYC forms partnerships with various cafés, most of which are small and private but renowned for quality food. Cafés select menus that they will discount when customers use tumblers. In return, BYC posts articles on their blog to promote the café. Currently, the partnered cafés are situated mainly around university areas such as Korea, Yonsei, and Sookmyung Women’s University.
“Although other big franchised cafés provide similar services, ours have a higher discount rate, up to 3,000 won per drink,” Kim said. “Most importantly, our service is differentiated in that the purpose for our service lies in the concern for the environment, not for more profitable sales.”
BYC also produces their own tumblers, which makes up most of their independent profit. Sold both domestically and internationally, the tumblers come in various designs, with a “Bring Your Cup” logo in the middle.
“Most of my time is devoted to designing our tumblers,” Kim said. “One may think that it is simply a design, but I found out that appearance influences people’s willingness to carry cups with them.”
Sometimes, BYC collaborates with new artists to put more artistic touch to their cups. During holiday seasons such as Christmas, adequately themed cups are sold, and the benefits are donated to charity.
Kim recalls having a good memory of starting the business. During the starting months, BYC partnered with LOCK & LOCK and sold tumblers at a very low price. Everyone looked satisfied with their tumblers and showed great interest in BYC, as they could buy coffee at a discounted price. However, the actual service was not put to much use.
“We found that although customers were interested in the concept, they didn’t actually get around to bringing tumblers to cafés,” Kim said.
Kim saw progress by running around on his own two feet to raise awareness. He set up booths in university festivals, cooperating with various environmental clubs or related businesses. There, he introduced students about BYC, its service and nearby cafés that they can go to. The business developed slowly from then on.
“Once, I went on a business trip to America and saw someone using our cup,” Kim said. “My brother who lives in Switzerland also sent me a photo of someone using BYC cup in Switzerland. That’s when I realized that I was going somewhere. At the same time, I felt worthwhile.”
Kim plans to expand the business by turning his eyes on to a new business opportunity. Although the business will be about promoting reusable tumblers, Kim plans to add coffee to his business.
“I would like to promote environmentally friendly and healthy coffee,” Kim said. “As most of the tumblers are used to drink coffee out of all drinks, I think it is the perfect concept that complements the ongoing business.”

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