Our dashboard dining days have been diminished, for the most part, since cafés have reopened their ‘sit in’ options.
Lock-downs are well in the past at this stage, and many coffee and tea drinkers must be relieved they no longer have to drink their brews huddling in their cars, or hugging their takeaway cups outside their favourite coffee hatches.
However, Summer has arrived; bringing with it an increase in temperatures, lengthy daytime hours and the promise of some sunshiny, outdoor dining again.
Our question is- Are you back bringing a ‘keep’ cup* (reusable cup) with you when you buy a takeaway beverage?
We’re on a mission to find out; how many cafés are offering this service again? And, how many offer an incentive to customers to use reusable cups? Particularly in Waterford City and suburbs
Single-Use Cup Levy
This topic has been in the headlines recently as it will be included in a Governmental ‘Circular Economy Action Plan’. A plan that Minister Ossian Smyth is responsible for overseeing and one he will present as a bill to the Dáil. One intention of this plan is to ban single-use coffee cups by 2026 (The Sunday Times, 2022). Just to note, in case you missed it; last July the government banned ten types of single-use plastic forks, knives and straws (Ibid). Next up, they aim to do away with coffee cups (i.e. single-use hot beverage cups) within four years by introducing a levy, similar to the tax that was introduced back in 2002 for plastic bags. Apparently, this tax helped to reduce our plastic bag usage in Ireland by 95per cent (Ibid). Initially, the levy for takeaway cups will be set at 20 cent.
As coffee and tea consumers, we need to break this lazy and messy habit of using wasteful single-use cups.
Waste By-Products of the Coffee Industry
Why is this a problem? Because three of the main waste by-products in the coffee industry contributing to landfill or incineration waste are; disposable coffee cups, single use coffee capsules, or pods and coffee grounds. While many coffee shop owners or coffee roasters in Ireland do their best to offer their product in packaging and cups which are; re-cyclable, compostable, or biodegradable. Many still sell pod versions of their product in non-biodegradable packages which are in no way environmentally friendly. However, back in 2018, Bewley’s moved to tackle this growing environmental problem by creating a new range of 100 per cent compostable capsules that can be dropped into organic recycling (brown) bins (The Irish Times, 2018). 3fe also offer a range of compostable pods. The hope is that other coffee companies in Ireland will begin to follow this example.
To get a better overall picture of the problem surrounding ‘recyclable’ cups in Ireland- Watch this video by My Waste Ireland below…
Although many cafés are using what are deemed as recyclable cups. This is not always the case when examined closer, as some cups are simply not 100% recyclable ♻. What it comes down to is- the plastic lid and the paper sleeve on the cup are recyclable but the inner shell of the cup is not (as explained in the video above). Food business owners should be aware of this. So, if you’ve not already made the change to cups which are 100% recyclable or compostable- why not do it now? It’s imperative that food and beverage businesses supply the appropriate bins so that these cups are properly recycled or composted after use.
The Circular Economy
On their website, My Waste Ireland explains how The Circular Economy works (see info graphic below), an initiative they support and one which is supported and promoted by the European Commission also. Plus, they have a section that supports businesses here on how to manage waste and labels for your bins etc. For ‘at home’ baristas, you’ll find tips on what to do with your left over coffee grinds on this website.
The Conscious Cup Campaign group have highlighted the importance of a recyclable cup since 2016 and they did their upmost to re-enforce this message (in a post-lockdown world) to the public. Alas, recently the group has been winded down as they have merged with My Waste Ireland but on the plus side, this might mean both organisations can make a united and a bigger impact going forward.
Café owners in Tramore town have been strong avocates of the Conscious Cup Campaign, as a result there are lots of eateries in the town where you can get your keep cup filled. However in the past, uptake with café owners in Waterford City fell short as there were not many listed on the original Conscious Cup Google Map . Numbers of supporters of the campaign within the City and suburbs came to a total of 10! That’s not very promising for our city’s food businesses or helpful either to environmentally concerned shoppers and visitors to Waterford.
Call-out to Waterford City Cafés
We feel that the individual coffee shops are not advertising their ‘reuse’ options enough so we’d like to begin a conversation around this and try to get ‘reusable cup friendly’ Cafés listed for Waterford City & Suburbs. Over the last few weeks, we reached out to some of the city’s café owners and asked the questions mentioned above. From their answers we’ve drawn up a List of cafés in Waterford city and suburbs that offer recyclable or compostable cups and those who are happy to accept keep cups too.
Click the photo for our full list of >>>> ‘REUSABLE CUP’ CAFÉS in WATERFORD CITY & SUBURBS
Cup Options & Innovations
We’d like to say- well done to these environmentally conscious and forward thinking businesses! Firstly, to Signalbox Coffee, located in Kilmacthomas village, on the Greenway, who were the first café in Waterford to offer their customers edible cups. They mention, that the cups are working out great for them, they’re popular and these cups biodegrade if customers don’t want to eat them! Another Waterford original we’d like to recognise is Monkey Cups, an established re-usable cup manufacturing brand; renowned nationally and soon to launch internationally.
And lastly an option that has come to light recently, is the 2 Go Cup Scheme . This is a subscription service offered by an Irish company which Café owners can sign up to, in order to supply ‘Eco Friendly Coffee Cups’ for customers. Check out their website for details and subscription costs. This service may well start the ball rolling in helping to cut our reliance on non- recyclable cups.
In the meantime, it’s up to café owners themselves, large or small, chains or bespoke, to actively make the appropriate changes within their stores. To ‘perk up’ and listen to their customer’s environmental concerns, along with their coffee quirks. If we (customers and owners) together implement these few changes, before 2026 rolls in, it will make a difference to our pockets, and eventually a big difference to the environment too!
Do you re-use? We’d love to know your feelings on this!
Note: if you own or manage a socially responsible Café -you can request to have your business added to the ‘Reusable Cup Cafés List’ here.
*Also Please Note: We are in no way affiliated with the Australian Keep Cups Brand who have been around since 2009.
Mahon, B. 2022. Single-use coffee cups to be ground out by 2026. The Sunday Times, March, 27.
O’Sullivan, K. 2018. Coffee Cup Maker in Ennis Leads the World. The Irish Times [Online] Available at: https://www.irishtimes.com/news/environment/coffee-cup-maker-in-ennis-leads-the-world-1.3425521