It is a truth universally acknowledged that remembering to carry your reusable coffee cup at all times is almost impossible. This is part of the reason why approximately one billion takeaway coffee cups will end up in landfill in Australia this year – that’s around 50,000 every 30 minutes.
To help combat this insane environmental destruction, Inner West Council – which includes Balmain, Ashfield, Dulwich Hill, Marrickville and Newtown – announced last year it would introduce a pilot program to replace all single-use cups with reusable ones.
In its first step on the road to achieving that mission, the council has partnered with Green Caffeen, a swap-and-go reusable coffee cup scheme based out of Kiama, south of Sydney. Together, the council and Green Caffeen have signed 25 cafes up to the pilot, including local favourites such as Ona, both Cornersmiths, Cherry Moon, Two Chaps and Petty Cash.
The program launches on July 30, and a bunch of cafes will be giving away free coffee that day to celebrate. All coffee-drinkers need to do is download the Green Caffeen app (Android users, click here), then pick a free reusable cup from any cafe that’s signed up to the program – with the Inner West Council footing the bill. (Participating cafes will appear on the app on July 29.) Customers just need to return their cups within 30 days, or else they’ll be charged a fee of $12.99. If you’re worried you’ll forget to return your dirty cup, don’t fear – you can have two out at any one time.
“I used to have reusable cups floating around everywhere – in my car, my wife’s car, my gym bag, the dish drainer,” says Damien Clark, co-founder of Green Caffeen. “We decided on a swap-and-go idea, based on swap-and-go gas bottles, because we’re blokes and that’s how we think.”
Green Caffeen launched in August 2018, fortuitously around the same time as Inner West mayor Darcy Byrne announced the introduction of the scheme. Clark and co-owner Martin Brooks applied to be part of the program and were successful. While there are 25 cafes currently signed up, Clark tells Broadsheet that, based on similar launches in other areas, he reckons others who are sitting on the fence will be quick to join once they see others doing it.
“The reason it can work, and has worked in Germany, is because it does away with the disincentive,” Byrne told Broadsheet last year. “Customers don’t want to carry around a dirty coffee cup with them all day and remember to take it home and wash it. If you have all of the cafes in one street or suburb participating, then that allows customers to exchange the cup at any cafe.”
The Inner West Council and Green Caffeen reusable cup initiative launches on July 30.