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Coffee Cups: Choose to Reuse

Take a look at all the cafes springing up in Darwin and think about this – in 20 years, pretty much every single one of their paper take away cups will still exist in landfill at Shoal Bay tip – even the ‘biodegradable’ ones.

The recent ABC TV program War On Waste drew many people’s attention to the awful reality of our coffee consumption, that three billion disposable cups and lids are used each year in Australia and most will spend decades in landfill, their plastic lining refusing to decay. This includes so-called biodegradable cups, which are rarely disposed of in a composting facility. 

Responsible Cafes, a national not-for-profit initiative to get people to use bring-your-own cups, was one of the organisations featured by War on Waste’s Craig Reucassel. 
Since it aired, 2,500 more cafes have signed up to the initiative, agreeing to offer a discount to customers who bring their own cups. But it’s not the businesses that Responsible Cafes think should lead the charge, it’s their customers.

“Our approach is that consumers start that conversation with their cafes,” says Responsible Cafes’ Jo Horsley. “We understand that there’s a lot of pressure on café owners, it’s a hard business. Margins are really low – it’s got to come from consumers to say ‘I will come to your café if you encourage bring-your-own cups’.”

There are 20 Top End cafes registered with the Responsible Cafes website at time of print. Lucky Bat in Night-cliff has one of the more generous discounts going round – one dollar off when you bring your own cup.

Lucky Bat barista Bill Stevenson has detected there’s been a pick-up in not just bring-your-own-cup use, but in a rejection of plastic in general.

“We have had a little bit of a thing about plastic straws… so (concern) is definitely on the increase,” he says.

“Primarily from regular customers, once they know they can bring a Keep Cup they bring them all the time.” 

For a list of participating cafes go to the Responsible Cafes website.

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