In the beginning of August Neutral Bay cafe Tonic Lane banned all single-use disposable coffee cups, taking a serious step towards a more sustainable Sydney.

Since then the cafe says at least 80 per cent of its customers bring in their own cups and that it has saved 1670 single-use cups from going into landfill. Tonic Lane’s owners have also been encouraging patrons to sit down and have their coffee in, which has contributed to the drop in the need for disposable vessels.

It’s the first venue in the city to do it. Others across Australia include Melbourne’s Handsome Her, Perth’s Antz Inya Pantz Coffee Co and Canberra’s Frankies at Forde.

Never miss a Sydney moment. Make sure you're subscribed to our newsletter today.


It is estimated that Australians toss away approximately 50,000 takeaway coffee cups every half hour. That’s 2.7 million a day and around one billion every year.

At Tonic Lane, customers can help themselves to a free mug donated by the local Vinnies, giving life to unloved mugs that were once gathering dust.

And if customers supply their own cup, they are rewarded with double stamps on their loyalty cards, which goes towards a free drink.

“It has been cast as a bold move, but cafes need to be brave and make the transition,” says Tonic Lane’s owner, Lain Tapsall. “We have had overwhelming community support and have customers travelling further to do their bit and get the double stamp.”

If customers really want a disposable cup they are provided with a biodegradable, single-use cup (and a lecture), for an additional 50 cents, with 20 cents of that going to Clean Up Australia.
“Many of our customers already own a KeepCup or a travel mug, they just need an incentive and to hear about the environmental effects to make it a part of their routine,” says Tapsall.

Tonic Lane is also collaborating with Responsible Cafes, a website listing cafes that offer discounts for conscious consumers.

Lian Tapsall, with the support of Craig Reucassel from ABC’s three-part series *War on Waste*, hopes to establish a universal network of conscious cafes with the same rewards.

Subscribe to the Broadsheet newsletter and get Sydney’s latest, straight to your inbox.