Again Again banner image foreground

What we’re proud of

  • Partnering with startup Again Again to create an entire reusable container management system

  • Creating an MVP mobile app and vendor web platform to run the system on.

The challenge: Changing the culture from throwaway to reuse

Plastic items from takeaway food and drink dominate the litter in the world’s oceans. The founders of Aotearoa New Zealand startup Again Again were thinking about this when they decided to tackle single-use food packaging waste, starting with something close to Kiwis’ hearts: coffee.

In Aotearoa we chuck out close to 300 million disposable coffee cups every year. While exact global figures vary, it is estimated by some (including Starbucks) to be 600 billion.

In 2021, we worked with Again Again to tackle this throwaway problem. We created an MVP version of an entire reusable container system. It’s not just focussed on coffee cups, it’s aiming to create a new behaviour and a new way of thinking that’s all about the cycle of reuse.

How the system works

After downloading the mobile app (available on iOS and Android), people can start borrowing coffee cups and containers from participating cafes, restaurants, and breweries. Like library books, people can borrow the container for a certain amount of time, while being charged if they don’t return it. This is to incentivise people to return containers so they stay in the system and continue to be reused. Containers can be returned at any participating cafe or restaurant.

Along with the mobile app, the Again Again system platform also consists of a vendor dashboard web application so participating vendors can manage their fleet of reusable containers.

Our approach: Discovery first, to inform Design and Build

We started with a Discovery phase, which was crucial for defining the new mobile product and web platform system. As new insights came to light throughout Discovery from investors, stakeholders, and prototype testing results, we worked with Again Again to alter the direction and reprioritise work as needed.

For Design and Build, we moved into MVP delivery sprints, which included UX and UI design, mobile and web build, API application and build, infrastructure and system DevOps, quality assurance testing, and NFC tag provisioning and management services to deliver the Again Again system.

We made a prototype as part of Discovery, and we tested the prototype with real people, thinking about how a mobile app is used in context. We tested it at Mojo on the Terrace, Peoples Coffee, and Garage Project.

Again Again prototype testing

Visualising impact in a simple but meaningful way

We used a hybrid approach for the visual design. Some basic components, like alerts and switches, are native to each platform. This made for a consistent user experience and allowed us to focus our efforts on customising more complex components like the shelf and impact screen.

Hannah, Again Again’s illustrator, created the sea creature theme for the impact screen, which gives users a visual representation of the impact of their use of Again Again’s reusable container system. The shelf shows users all the containers they currently have on loan, and how many days until they need to return them.

Again Again Shelf and Impact view

Building a multi-platform codebase with Flutter

We used Flutter to build the mobile app, as it allowed us to use one codebase for both iOS and Android, and customise the two experiences as needed. This resulted in much less development effort, and will continue to save time and cost as ongoing updates are made.

We built the core system and API using Django and a restful framework, and the web app using React.

Again Again mobile view image

NFC tags for secure wireless communication

During the Discovery phase, we looked into a number of different ways of enabling secure wireless connectivity and data exchange between devices. We went with NFC, which allows two devices to communicate wirelessly when they are placed right next to each other. It’s an upgrade over clunky QR codes, as users only need to touch their smartphone to the NFC tag to exchange data rather than scanning a code.

Again Again prototype testing

The outcome: A scalable MVP for mobile and web

After three months of collaboration, Again Again has a comprehensive technical ecosystem for their innovative reusable container system. The solution features a complex ledger system with payment integration, NFC scalability, and security-first design.

We built a secure, scalable, future-proofed foundation ready for them to take to the next level.