It has been a year already!
Some of you will remember that this time last year we stopped using paper cups for takeaway coffees and went to reusable only. Some called the decision brave, and others called it stupid. We figure it was just something that we had to do and although we were nervous about the ramifications, our initial fears were unrealised and instead we are a year down the track and still excited about the project.
Along the way we found a lot of support, from the initial help we got from Boston Tea Party and Ecoffee Cup to the encouragement and curiosity from the wider industry. And from our wonderful customers we had support and understanding while we worked on our new way of working. We also received some terrific constructive feedback which has helped with figuring out some of the challenges.
We talked previously about why we did this, but to reiterate just a touch, we got to the point where we felt too uncomfortable with the amount of paper-cup waste we were generating and wanted to make some significant changes. Reusable cups have come such a long way in their quality, affordability, usability, and end of life protocols that we felt they were (and are) a viable option for all takeaway coffee. It took us the best part of a year to organise the cups and procedures and here we are, now a year later after implementation.
Not much has really changed from our initial set up. The cups still cost £5, which is refundable on return of the complete cup. You can take the cup for as long as you like, use it for as long as you like, use it wherever you like. In fact, really, you never have to return it if you don’t want to! We have plenty and the idea is that you could use it forever! By our numbers we have not used around 350,000 paper cups this last year. It is an extraordinary amount and interestingly one eye-opener for us was just how many paper cups were used so closely to our own shops. For the convenience of the paper cup a coffee was often drunk maybe ten feet away from our own front door, where a ceramic cup could easily have been used. This has made us think about the importance of the convenience factor in our daily operations and how this could inform our next waste reduction projects.
Paper cups, like plastic bags before them, really are now an anachronism and we should be doing what we can to reduce our use of these types of single use items that are not straightforward to compost or recycle and also have a viable solution. Knowing the difficulties that paper cups cause in recycling, and the excellent reusable solutions available to everyone who drinks coffee, we would like to see other coffee roasters and coffee shops coming up with their own schemes as well. We have had some encouraging conversations with many already, which is super, but if you make coffee somewhere and would like to know more about our experience then get in touch; we are very happy to chat!
Alongside our reusable cups effort, we have been looking at our coffee bags and how to move them to a material which works with existing infrastructure across many local authorities. There have been some great innovations in the last few years since we looked at this and we know recycling centres are working on their systems in order to deal with the new materials. There is more work for us to do here and we are hopeful we can make a change soon but we want to make sure it is one for the better, rather than swapping one problem for another.
Until next time, thank you all for your support and encouragement!