A Guelph company has taken its environmental focus to another level with the help of technology.
Cupanion is a provider of hot and cold reusable beverage containers, a line of roughly 20 different products from simple water bottles to insulated steel coffee mugs.
They’re sleek, practical and keep plastic bottles and help disposable cups out of landfills.
But Cupanion has gone several steps further, teaming with international non-profit Water Aid to provide clean water in underdeveloped parts of the world through both the purchase and continued use of the container.
“Ultimately we develop products... But in addition to that, what sets us apart is the technology that integrates with our products and allows our products to come to life and tell a story around reuse,” said Matt Wittek, the company’s founder and director.
It makes the environmental footprint of using a Cupanion product measurable and more impactful.
“It takes the story of reuse to a whole other level,” Wittek said. “We want to inspire people to reuse. That’s why we exist. It’s why we do what we do.”
Through the company’s phone app, which gets a refresh in February, users can scan a tag on their Cupanion product each time they refill it. The app will let you know how much you have contributed to a particular Water Aid project as well track what your re-usable choice has had on a variety of environmental impact.
Even those not using Cupanion products will be able to track their enviro-impact through a sticker they will be able to get through the company and use with the app.
So far, through Water Aid, Cupanion has donated the equivalent of over 2.3 million cups of clean water.
The app and scanning allow for a variety of additional uses. One large client used it to hold a competition between corporate offices to see which one reused the most.
Cupanion sells largely to the university/college and corporate market and their products are often used for branding.
Wittek who praises his like-minded team for helping make the company achieve what it has, started Cupanion with one product in 2009 after cutting his enviro business teeth in the reusable grocery bag business. Things took off in 2012 with the development of the company’s app.
“Guelph aligns with what we’re trying to do from a cultural perspective,” says Wittek, a Peterborough native who graduated from the University of Guelph’s hospitality program, where he met his wife Brenda. The couple have three young daughters.
Locally, customers include the University of Guelph, Hillside Festival and independent stores such as Planet Bean and Grey Rock Clothing in Downtown Guelph.
South of the border, big clients include Boston College, Penn State and tech giant Intel.
Wittek said the theory is that sustainability is part of the plan, but by creating an experience around reuse, then more people can be motivated to reuse on a regular basis.
Cupanion has received a fair bit of recognition for its innovation and products.
“It’s very exciting when you’re making an impact,” Wittek said. “We’ve been able to build something that has lasting value and have long-lasting impact.
“Reuse is so important and so easy to do,” he said. “Bring a cup with you.”
For more about the company and its environmental initiatives, go to www.cupanion.com.