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Industry

October 4, 2017

RESPONSIBLE CAFES

Sadly, so-called ‘biodegradable’ or ‘compostable’ cups share the same fate, even contaminating other recyclables. Most people don’t know that unless they are processed in an industrial composting facility, they will last just as long as all other takeaway cups. Worse still, many cups and lids end up in our oceans, where they break up into smaller pieces called microplastics, which marine life mistakes for food, taking the lives of countless millions of innocent sea creatures and birds every year.
Disposable cups also pose a significant risk to our health. There are many concerns that the microplastics eaten by wildlife are making their way down the food chain into our food, causing major health concerns about the safety of eating fish and other marine life. Lined with plastic, dangerous carcinogenic chemicals such as phthalates & bisphenol-A (BPA) leach from the cups and lids into our drinks, causing adrenal, pulmonary, endocrine, reproductive, and pregnancy abnormalities. Even corn-derived ‘bioplastics’, such as polylactic acid (PLA) used in biodegradable cups, raise concerns due to limited safety & health information.

So what is being done about this growing problem?
Responsible Cafes is a not-for-profit initiative founded in 2013 by a group of passionate everyday coffee lovers eager to change the game on this massive issue. It aims to fill this gap by promoting cafes who offer a discount (usually ranging from 30¢-$1) to customers who use their own reusable cup. Cafés can sign up on their website www.responsiblecafes.com.au, download free materials to promote the discount, and get listed on a searchable map of participating cafes across Australia so that more customers can find them.
The initiative has been so popular since the ABC’s War on Waste series in May that over 2,700 cafes have now signed up to incentivise reuse. In episode 3 of War on Waste, they filled a Melbourne tram with 50,000 cups – the same number that is used by Australians every half hour. Australians across the country have been shocked to learn their cups are not recycled, driving people into action and attracting hundreds of thousands of people to the website in only a couple of months. Not only that but 100s of volunteers have put their hand up to chat to cafes in their area to get them on board. Quite simply, this is an idea whose time has come.

Running a cafe is hard work and a competitive business, so joining Responsible Cafes not only does a good turn for the planet and community but also gives you a competitive advantage with over a million people searching the map for cafes every year. In a recent survey of over 100 cafes, Responsible Cafes discovered that each cafe saves on average 27.8 disposable cups from landfill everyday. This equates to over 10,000 cups a year, but when you add in the 2,700 cafes that have committed to the program, this amounts to a whopping 25 million disposable cups saved each year. There really is no excuse not to reuse!

Some baristas have voiced concerns about the health and safety of using BYO cups. There is no provision under the Victorian Food Act 1984 (the Act) or the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (the Code) that prevents a customer from using their own container for storage of food purchased. The onus is on the customer, of course, to provide a clean cup, and cafes can certainly refuse to accept it or ask them to bring a clean one in future.
The issue is blowing up across the country, so now’s your chance to get involved. Councils, celebrities, and companies are all looking for ways to reduce commercial and residential waste – and Responsible Cafes is one part of the solution.

There are heaps of other advantages too, including:
• Increase customer loyalty as regulars take advantage of the discount
• Get on the map and get found by customers with their own cups
• Publicity and support through the Responsible Cafes website, searchable map and social media channels
• A free downloadable poster and fact sheet to help spread the message and start the conversation with your customers
• Potential cost savings through reduced disposable cup/lid expenditures


By JUSTIN BONSEY

SIGN UP Now
Sign up and join the growing crew of Responsible Cafes across Australia who offer a discount to customers who bring their own cups.
www.responsiblecafes.org






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