On Trend: Reusable coffee cups

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While reusable coffee cups have been around for a while now, we’ve really only just seen the beginning. Although there may be some downsides as a café operator – dirty cups, cups not fitting your machine, lost branding opportunities, and so on – there’s actually loads more reasons to love them:

Earth friendly

Because of their plastic lining, most disposable cups – even the ‘enviro’ ones – can’t easily be recycled. Every year in New Zealand, almost 300 million disposable cups end up in landfill. That’s more than 60 cups for every single person in the country. Swapping to a reusable cup for just one coffee each work day will save more than 3 kilograms of waste in a year per person.


Image credit: @veganburd

Enhanced thermals

Depending on the material, reusable cups are much better insulated, meaning your beverage stays warmer while your hand stays cooler.


Image credit: @helocrushcup

Better taste

While it may only be a minor difference, discerning coffee lovers will tell you that drinking from reusable cups makes coffee taste better.


Image credit: @houseofkind

Improved functionality

Reusable cups are generally more spill resistant and easier to hold than standard takeaway cups. (We’ve ALL been there when wearing white!)


Image credit: @tolletotumwhn

Fewer toxins

Because they’re made using more durable materials like glass or food-grade silicon, reusable cups are free from BPA and other nasties often found in disposable packaging.


Image credit: @wan.michelle

An increasing number of cafes are incentivising customers with reusable cups by offering discounts, usually ranging between 20c-50c. Some cafes that sell reusable cups will offer the first coffee free with the purchase of a cup as an added incentive. Interestingly, some research indicates that charging more for disposable cups is more likely to discourage their use than offering discounts for BYO cups.

Christchurch’s Sign of the Kiwi café has banned disposable cups from their establishment, installing a mug wall for regular customers to store their mugs of choice.

Then there’s the likes of Celcius Coffee in Motueka on the South island, which has taken the war on waste to a whole new level. Not only have they launched their own brand of reusable cups, but they’ve also started a ‘CupCycling’ campaign to eliminate disposable cups entirely from their whole town.

After successfully rolling out the ‘IdealCup’ in their own café, with about a 70% take-up rate among regular customers, they saw an opportunity to spread the cause wider, and the ‘Make Motueka Disposable Cup Free’ campaign was born. The way it works is on a ‘cup bank’ system. First-time customers pay a $10 ‘bond’ for a coffee in a reusable cup (with biodegradable single-use lid) from participating cafes that have a ‘bank’ of IdealCups. Customers can then return to any participating café, return a clean or dirty cup and get their coffee in a clean cup. And then the cycle keeps going again and again. Genius!

But it’s not just businesses leading the charge. Increasingly, conscious consumers are going out of their way to seek cafes that align with their beliefs. Fairtrade, locally-sourced, cruelty-free, and pro-keep cup. Local site www.uyoc.co.nz is a directory allowing customers to search for responsible cafes in NZ, including those who sell/accept reusable keeps. That list is rapidly growing.

So whether you’re looking to save the earth, save money or simply keep up with consumer demand, there’s no denying that keep cups are on the up!

Silver Chef is proud to be a B Corporation, using the power of business to create a positive impact on the world through social and environmental responsibility.

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