Australia throws away on average 100,000 takeaway coffee cups every single hour. You read that correctly. That’s getting up towards one billion coffee cups a year.

It was a statistic driven home by presenter Craig Reucassel last week, when the final episode of the ABC’s War on Waste program filled a Melbourne tram with 50,000 cups (that’s half an hour’s worth, for those counting along at home) and carted them around the Victorian capital. Reucassel’s point was that while we tend to think of coffee cups as recyclable, the waterproof coating on the inside means they’re not.

If you’re by now having nightmarish visions of landfill piled high with coffee cups, not to worry – there are some things you can do.

First, look for a cafe that uses recyclable paper cups produced by companies such as BioPak. In a separate story, BioPak’s Richard Fine told Broadsheet Reucassel’s reporting was “not 100 per cent accurate”: “Paper cups – including BioCups – are accepted in the paper-recycling stream in many [Australian] councils.” BioCups are also compostable, as well as recyclable.

Second, next time you head to the local, pack your Bunnykins or maybe a reusable cup such as a KeepCup.

The website responsiblecafes.org lists cafes throughout the country that offer discounts to customers who bring their own cup. “The idea is to connect cafes with conscious consumers,” says founder Justin Bonsey. “We found that by cafes offering small discounts to customers who bring their own cup, it just incentivises them to do the right thing. A lot of people want to do the right thing anyway – this just shows them how.”

The three-year-old website had around 400 Australian cafes listed two weeks ago. Now, after a brief mention on War on Waste, the number has shot up to 1600. “It just exploded,” Bonsey says. “On Friday, I sent out a survey to all our participating cafes trying to gauge results. On average they’re saving 29.5 cups a day. That represents about 16.2 million cups a year.”

Plum Tucker in Red Hill is listed on responsiblecages.org and offers a $1 discount for customers bringing in their own cup. “We initiated it earlier this year,” says co-owner Matt Carnell. “The episode of War on Waste got us on to the site, but we were already doing it.”

Carnell stresses Plum Tucker’s contribution isn’t limited to KeepCups. “We’ve been telling our regulars, ‘Just bring in your own mug’,” he says. “The number of people BYO-ing has gone from less than one per cent over a month ago to three per cent now. There’s a really long way to go but we’ve definitely noticed a positive reaction.”

The Queensland government and Brisbane City Council are taking notice, in November getting involved in a pilot project to up-cycle spent coffee cups. The scheme utilised new technology to combine liquid-proof cups with a polymer to create a durable multi-use plastic-fibre compound. A dedicated processing facility is now being assessed.

In the meantime, head to one of the following enviro-friendly cafes listed on responsiblecafes.org, all of which will give you a discount for BYO-ing your housemate’s mug.

Vintaged Bar + Grill, CBD
$1 off

Merlo Coffee George Street, CBD
50c off

Ricochet Espresso, CBD
20c off

Sparrow Coffee, CBD
25c off

Coffee Anthology, CBD
50c off

Botero, CBD
20c off

Tall Short, Paddington
50c off

Merlo Coffee Queen Street, CBD
50c off

Thomson's Reserve, CBD
50c off

Merlo Coffee QUT, Gardens Point
50c off

Holy Moly Espresso, Spring Hill
50c off

Ripe South Brisbane, South Brisbane
50c off

Merlo Coffee, South Bank
50c off

Alto, CBD
50c off

Between the Bars Cafe, West End
50c off

Bell Bros Coffee House, Fortitude Valley
50c off

The Menagerie, Kelvin Grove
20c off

Merlo Coffee, Fortitude Valley
50c off

Meanz Beanz, Kelvin Grove
50c off

Sol Natural Foods, West End
50c off

Campos Coffee, Fortitude Valley
30c off

The 4064, Milton
50c off

Beadles on the Quad, Kelvin Grove
20c off

The Green Owl, Bowen Hills
50c off

Marcia's on Montague, West End
50c off

Little Seed, West End
50c off

Drummer Boy Cafe, West End
30c

The Sideshow, West End
30c off

Evolve Organic, Teneriffe
20c off

Plum Tucker, Red Hill
$1 off

Merlo Coffee, Paddington
50c off

The Gindi 4121, Tarragindi
50c off

Atticus Finch Cafe, Paddington
50c off

Campos Coffee Gasworks Plaza, Newstead
30c off

Sassafras Canteen, Paddington
50c off

Merlo Coffee UQ, Saint Lucia
50c off

Di Bella Coffee, Bowen Hills
50c off

Darwin’s, St Lucia
20c off

Bungalow 4171, Hawthorne
42c off

Merlo Coffee, Bowen Hills
50c off

Merlo Coffee, Toowong
50c off

The Green Edge, Windsor
50c off

The Produce Bulk Foods, Ashgrove
50c off

Ministry of the Coffee Bean, Bulimba
50c off

Merlo Coffee, Coorparoo
50c off

Visit responsiblecafes for participating cafes around Australia.