In Australia, 50,000 disposable coffee cups are used every 30 minutes. A huge percentage of those cups are unrecyclable.

Single O in Surry Hills is committed to breaking the cycle, and aims to reduce its single-use coffee cup waste by 50 per cent by this time next year. That’s 150,000 less coffee cups going to landfill.

On Tuesday May 30, the cafe's Surry Hills and York Street stores will offer free coffee for those who bring in a KeepCup, BYO cup or reusable mug. This is the first time Single O has offered free coffee in its 14 years.

“Reusable cups have been around for a while, but we’re taking that step to increase our collective consciousness about waste,” says co-owner Emma Cohen. “Lots of people have KeepCups or other reusable cups in the back of their cupboards. Bring them out!”

Single O has already been encouraging customers to take their coffee “lidless” the past few months. At its coffee cart at Carriageworks Farmers Market, customers can borrow a ceramic mug, walk around the markets and then return it – 25 per cent of customers are already on board.

Another way customers can take a stand against waste is to drink their coffee from a ceramic cup at Single O’s new Short Stay Coffee Bar. The bar has been installed outside the takeaway window in Surry Hills, taking inspiration from Italian stand-up espresso bars.

“We want to create a culture were people can stop for a few minutes [to drink their coffee], and think about our excess waste at the same time,” says Cohen.

The free-coffee initiative coincides with the ABC’s War on Waste program, which is shining a light on Australia’s wasteful habits.

“People are talking about it, and the show is helping kick start behaviour change,” says Cohen.

There won’t be a compromise on the coffee itself. In fact, the baristas say the coffee tastes better in a ceramic mug than in a paper cup.