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Upper Hutt cafes are working together for the environment

A busy café can easily get through more than a thousand disposable cups every week, something which many coffee drinkers and café owners would like to do something about. The cups can’t be recycled because they are contaminated by the coffee and often¬¬ contain plastic by-products. Composting is not always practical either, so disposable cups often end up in the landfill.

Richard Schouten from Cake & Kitchen approached Upper Hutt City Council for support after seeing an article on IdealCup CupCycling™ at a café in Wellington. A customer borrows a CupCycling™ cup from a participating café and then returns the cup to any participating CupCycling™ café the next time they buy a coffee. Once people are in the scheme, they can just return their cup for cleaning and are given another one to take away. Customers pay a one off bond of $10 to join the scheme, which includes the first coffee. When they bring the cup back, they just pay for the coffee.

IdealCup founder, Stephanie Fry came up with the idea at her café in Motueka, “This system is not about the café or coffee supplier’s brand, it's about everyone doing something to divert one-use cups from the landfill.”

Upper Hutt City Council is supporting this business-led initiative with seed-funding as it reinforces the messages of reducing and reusing. Sustainability Officer, Sarah Cole says, “We really encourage people to sit down and enjoy their coffee or if they’re on the run, make use of a reusable cup.” The Upper Hutt version of the CupCycling™ cup features the beloved piwakawaka (fantail) and the message ‘Love Upper Hutt. Choose to reuse.’

Interest amongst the Upper Hutt retail community is high, with over 10 businesses taking part. “We’re very conscious of waste here and we’re always trying to push the boundaries in terms of sustainability,” says Mr Schouten. “Cake & Kitchen already offers a discount on coffee for customers who bring in their own cups. There’s a feeling out there that the idea will be well-received by our customers. The timing is really good.”

Trudy’s Café is also on the journey of reducing their environmental footprint, finding alternatives to disposable cups, straws, and paper. “A wee bit of conscious effort can make a huge difference,” says owner Trudy Preston. “I’m trying to show my son that there are things we can all do.”

“We have to address the single-use issue” says Cherie Braun from Limelight Café. “We love that it’s being rolled out in different parts of the country. This is next-level from the concept of the keep cup.

The cafés are encouraging everyone to support this initiative. Richard Glazebrook from Tricky’s Sandwich Co. sums up the situation, “We have got to a stage where we have to do something about the issue, that’s why we’re in this together. This is a project for the whole community.”

Look out for CupCycling™ from 19 September at Cake & Kitchen, Trudy’s Café, Tricky’s Sandwich Co., Limelight Café, The Hub, Café Rome, Arisong Cafe, Mayfair, Home Harvest Café, and Deep Café (at H2O Xtream).

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