Combine water and reusable cup dispensing with cup return function


Sustainability is always one of the core values of Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) and they are looking at how to encourage park visitors to gear towards sustainable purchasing and behaviour. WRS is seeking for solutions to create a water/flavoured drink dispenser that enables safe (hygienic and sterile) reusable cup dispensing for visitors to use with cup return functions.   

Currently, visitors to WRS parks who did not bring along a water container is not able to get water from the water dispensers. As such, the visitors would have to purchase either a new reusable water bottle or disposable carton water.

With the above solution, WRS would be able to reduce the environmental footprint and resources needed to manufacture new reusable bottle/disposable carton. The solution could be deployed at existing controlled entry and exit points at the parks to allow visitors to borrow and return cups conveniently through the vending/reverse-vending machines.

No reusable solutions have been trialled at this point. Generally, the concerns are that the reusable cup returned by visitors would have scratches and/or physical defects, that may prove difficult for some guests to accept. There are also hygiene concerns on whether the returned cups can be adequately cleaned for safe reuse.


  • The vending/reverse vending machine should have a size measuring similar to that of a conventional vending machine, e.g. 72"H x 39"W x 33"D. Some of the machines will be deployed at semi-outdoor environment and should be weather resistant, i.e. a minimum dust/water ingress protection rating of IP34. The refrigeration temperature should be maintained at 4°C or below. Each machine should have a minimum capacity to collect at least 3,600 returned cups each month, with collected cups being removed every 2-3 days.
  • The cup should consist of different sizes. It should be reusable for at least 20-100 times and has appropriate mechanical properties and thickness that could withstand industrial dishwasher cleaning operations (washing, rinsing, disinfection with steam).  It should not degrade over time especially when coming into contact with detergents. In short, the cups need to be dishwasher safe. It is also expected that the cups are scratch-resistant.
  • The cups should have a unique identification and/or traceability feature (e.g. QR code) to facilitate returns at the machine and prevent possible false returns.
  • The vending/reverse vending machine is expected to perform two functions: (a) dispense cold water/flavoured drinks into a reusable cup and (b) receive used reusable cups of all sizes. Function (b) should take priority in this solution.
  • It is expected that the user would be able to operate the machine through a single-hand operation. It is also preferred that the user will be able to pay with multiple payment methods, e.g. cash, card payment, e-wallets. The vending/reverse vending machine will charge an additional amount on top of the beverage for the reusable cup, and this additional amount will be refunded to the user when the reusable cup is returned at one of the machines.
  • As some of the users may choose to keep the reusable cup or some of the cups may be misplaced, the QR code feature will be used to trace and collect data for future reporting and analysis purposes. The machine is also expected to automatically trigger notifications to inform WRS in the event where the collected cups are full, low amount of remaining drinks or fault/out of order situations.
  • Energy consumption should meet the requirements of Energy Star. 
  • There should also be an automated function to switch on/off non-essential functions (e.g. light) at specified hours
  • The solution provider is expected to develop a complete prototype and will have access to one park to trial the prototype machines from May 2021 and by Q3 2021, according to the challenge’s timeline.
  • Relevant data, e.g. no. of disposable cups used, projected no. of cups to be used will be provided.

Desired Outcome

  • S$8,800 for each unit of the final product and S$2,000 for yearly maintenance of each unit.
  • The approximate number of vending/reverse vending machines required is about 40 units, with potential to collect at least 3,600 returned cups per machine month. In total, it is estimated that about 143,000 cups will be used each month, across 5 wildlife parks. It is also expected that other attractions and/or venues (e.g. hotels and malls) with controlled entry and exit points may benefit from this solution.
  • Wildlife Reserve is looking at SMEs and Start-ups to co-develop the product and possibly co-own the IP with the technology provider.

Development Timeframe

  • Evaluation and shortlisting prototype for testing by May 2021. The final product for on-site trial latest by Q3 2021.



Further Enquiries

  • For specific enquiries on the challenge statement, please contact here
  • For any general enquiries, please contact here 

Sustainability Open Innovation Challenge - Enterprise


Mandai Park Development (WRS)


Waste Reduction

Proposal submissions are open from 24 Nov 2020 12:00AM to 5 Mar 2021 12:00AM