Bring Your Own

June 15th, 2017
Bring Your Own
In Australia it’s estimated we use one billion disposable coffee cups each year. Most end up in land fill because of the thin plastic lining preventing them from being recycled.

But the Responsible Cafes movement is working to reduce this waste by nurturing a culture of reuse.

When coffee drinkers bring their reusable cup to participating cafes, they are offered a 50 cent to one dollar discount.

Since the airing of ABC’s War On Waste – a three part series investigating how Australia can reduce waste – more and more cafes have jumped on board with the movement.

Brother Bear Wholefood Cafe in Mount Barker opened seven months ago and registered with Responsible Cafes after watching the first episode of the series.

Owner Jess Cool said the response from customers has been amazing.
“People thought that coffee cups are recyclable and suddenly realised that we do need to change,” she said.

“We used to see about two people a day bring their own cup, but now that is up to about ten to fifteen.

“We stock the JOCO cups and the last order sold out in about a week and a half – I’ve already got people waiting.”

There have been proposals to ban disposable cups completely – one Perth cafe opened last year without offering a disposable option – but this would be a slow transition.

“People are forgetful. Even if they do bring their cup, they don’t necessarily bring it in every time,” Jess said.

“So if you didn’t have a disposable option, you would lose business.”
“I think offering the discount is a huge incentive. It’s about making it more mainstream and getting the word out there.

“Those conversations can be had because something like War On Waste has brought it to everyone’s attention.”

Brother Bear Wholefood Cafe also compost, recycle soft plastics, and their coffee grounds are picked up by Adelaide Hills Pastured Eggs and used in their paddocks.

“I think as a business, with so many customers coming through your door, you have a responsibility to be as sustainable as you can be and inspire others to do the same in their owns lives,” Jess said.

Three Birds gift shop in Stirling have also noticed a strong reaction since the airing of War On Waste, selling over two dozen reusable coffee cups and having to place another huge order to keep up with the demand.

“A lot of people have come in and they’re shocked because they didn’t realise that takeaway cups are not recyclable,” Three Birds’s Karin Bryson said.

“Even though they say recycle on the cup, people didn’t know what’s required to break them down.

“Turning to a more user friendly cup is not that hard and many people are out there making a change.”

Three Birds stock Frank Green cups which come in two sizes – the large 400ml and small 250ml – the latter is about the same size as a medium takeaway coffee.

“They’re so easy and portable,” Karin said. “What’s great about these cups is once the valve is shut, they don’t leak – you can carry it in your shopping basket or put it in your car console.

“The lid screws on which makes it secure and safe, so if little kids happen to get their hands on them they’re not going to make a mess.”

Three Birds are also spreading the word about Responsible Cafes.

“All our neighbouring cafes have jumped on board and we’re sharing on Facebook and making sure our customers know which cafes are supporting the campaign,” Karin said.

“It’s like the reusable shopping bags – you have to remember to take them with you.

“With more publicity of reusable coffee cups, people will start carrying them and perhaps have two – one for heading out the door and one in their bag for later.

“It has to become a habit.”

Restaurant Tranquilo are ahead of the movement. They have offered a reusable cup discount for more than two years.

“We already have a client base that bring in their own cups - the ladies from the op shop down the road bring their mugs,” owner Michelle Golding said.

“I think using your own cup is much better than getting a takeaway cup and chucking it away.

“By giving people a discount they’re enthusiastic about using it.”

Cafes throughout the Hills offering a reusable cup discount include Restaurant Tranquilo and The Organic Market and Cafe in Stirling, Sazón Espresso in Mount Barker and Pig ‘n’ Thistle in Nairne.

Cafes in Adelaide’s CBD are being offered a one off rebate if they encourage with sustainable practices.

When cafes offer reusable cup discounts they are eligible for a $200 payment from the council. If they move to compostable cups they are eligible for a $500 payment.

The Adelaide Hills Council’s Manager Waste, Health and Regulatory Services John McArthur said his council was not considering offering the same incentive.

“Council would need to undertake an assessment of the proposed outcome to establish if this was the most effective way to reduce the number of disposable coffee cups going to landfill,” he said.

Instead, he said the council was focusing on implementing the 57 actions in their new Waste and Resource Management Strategy and encouraged people to familiarise themselves with the recycling rules for coffee cups.

“Cups made from 100 per cent cardboard can be placed in the recycling bin along with cups that are biodegradable with plastic liners that break down,” he said.

“Council does not encourage plastic lined waxed coffee cups to be placed in the recycling bin as they create difficulties when recycling.

“Rather than using waxed coffee cups that create waste, council encourages the use of reusable coffee cups or those that are recyclable or compostable to minimise waste to landfill and environmental impact.”

More information about recycling correctly is available at
To find a responsible cafe near you visit

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