Ocean Grind owner Mark Clatworthy wanted to change the impact his cafe and roastery had on the environment. Ditching single-use cups seemed like a logical first step.

“As part of our brand, we’re all about appreciating good coffee, but we’re also about appreciating the coast and the natural environment,” says Clatworthy.

But moving away from single-use cups was a gradual process. Clatworthy began by introducing competitions to encourage sustainable consumer habits. In one initiative, customers who reused their cups the most in one month went into the draw to win a surfboard.

But as long as long as the disposable cups were available, Clatworthy knew the cafe would never achieve its sustainability goals. So he decided the business needed to go one step further.

After a five-week phase-out period, Ocean Grind successfully ditched disposable cups on August 1. Clatworthy has implemented several initiatives to make the transition to “no-disposable” as seamless as possible. Any customer who brings in a reusable cup gets a 50-cent discount on their coffee, a swap-and-go system using reusable cups has been introduced, and there’s a donation-based mug library.

The “swap-and-go” system uses Huskee Cups. Customers purchase the durable, reusable cups – made from the coffee-bean husks generated during coffee production – for $15, which comes with a free coffee. When you return to the cafe to place your next order, you can drop off your dirty cup and take your new coffee away in a clean Huskee Cup. Customers can also use their Huskee Cups at other cafes participating in the swap-and-go system.

Ocean Grind’s mug library has been built up with ceramic mugs donated by customers and members of the community. If you forget to bring your reusable cup, you can borrow a mug from the library to take away – and you don’t have to bring it back.

But even with plenty of alternatives to single-use cups, the shift hasn’t been seamless – people still want lids on their coffees if they’re driving off to work, says Clatworthy. And some customers don’t want to spend on a Huskee Cup either.

“[Some people] have walked out, but we’ve had more than a handful of new customers because of this. People are backing what we’re doing and have come out of their way to check our place out and buy coffee from us because we’ve taken that stance.”

oceangrind.com.au