Why choose KeepCup?
Thankfully these days there is a great selection of reusable coffee cups on the market. Why is a huge slice of our own range of reusable coffee cups made by KeepCup? Well because they are market leaders, so it was an easy choice for us.
KeepCup is an Australian company that was founded in 2007 by siblings Abigail and Jamie Forsyth. As budding entrepreneurs, Abigail and Jamie started a cafe business in Melbourne in 1998. As their business grew and the coffee industry expanded, they became increasingly alarmed by the sheer volume of disposable single-use coffee cups being used. With professional life becoming busier and busier, the vast majority of people entering a cafe would opt for a coffee in a takeaway single-use cup, so they could carry on their busy day and have coffee on the go. The innocuous looking takeaway coffee cup appears to be paper, but of course liquids would just sleep through paper, so they are lined with polyethylene rendering them un-recyclable.
The innovative siblings had trialled a number of reusable takeaway cups with little success. A reusable coffee cup needs to be both an enjoyable experience for the coffee drinker, but it also needs to be convenient for the barista who is usually working in fast paced high pressure environments. Due the the problems with the trialled coffee cups, Abigail and Jamie decided to embark on the rather risky plans to develop their very own reusable coffee cup in 2007.
They set out to create a coffee cup that solved both issues, firstly a reusable on-the-go coffee cup that was enjoyable to drink from, but also one that was considered barista standard. A barista standard coffee cup meaning that it worked easily and conveniently behind the espresso machine. They needed to create a product that wouldn’t compromise the taste and drinking experience of the coffee, and also not compromising the speed of service from the barista. And so the now world renowned brand KeepCup was created. KeepCup is often described as the world's first barista-standard reusable coffee cup, and with good reason.
Nowadays zero waste, eco living, green wave and so on are more of a trendy term, and creating a reusable coffee cup brand would seem like a guaranteed successful idea when sustainability is a hot topic. However, even little over a decade ago, this was not the case at all. KeepCups founders Abigail and Jamie Forsyth were really taking quite a gamble that consumer behaviour could be changed from the convenient throwaway society by producing a coffee cup with a sustainable manufacturing practice. It was a steep challenge, and one that they took on with great courage and innovation. In the earlier days, carrying around your reusable coffee cup was something of a strange habit. KeepCup themselves described it as “like being in a secret club; a nod to aspirational behaviour for the world”. I remember myself a good few years ago being almost embarrassed handing over my KeepCup in a coffee shop, feeling like I was an inconvenience. Or trying to figure out of the cashier working in a service station would thing I was trying to steal coffee disguised in my own cup. Thankfully now change has begun. We are gradually stepping away from the disposable habits of the past. The usual starting point for most people seems to be a reusable coffee cup. Nowadays you can proudly hand over your KeepCup to a barista without thinking you are a inconvenience, knowing you are simply thinking about sustainability and your daily impact on the planet. Plus, you are just delighted with yourself for remembering to bring your KeepCup with you that day!
In 2009 KeepCup stated that their aim was to increase coffee cup reuse rates to 30%. In 2017 KeepCup and the coffee cup movement as a whole finally achieved this goal. This was aided after a TV documentary series called War On Waste highlighted the issue of the one billion non-recyclable disposable coffee cups that are sent to Australian landfills every year. this was the. Followed and further strengthened by the release of David Attenborough's famous TV series Blue Planet 2, the public as a whole became more acutely aware of the dire situation the planet was now in, and finally global waste and sustainability was a hot topic.
Now the tables are turning, and rather than feeling like in inconvenience with your KeepCup, some people are overcome with a sense of shame if they forget to bring it with them, and they resort to using a disposable single-use cup.
KeepCup estimated that by 2019 KeepCup users have diverted billions of non-recyclable, disposable single-use cups from going into landfill. KeepCup donates 1% of its global sales revenue to the 1% for the Planet campaign, citing its “responsibility as a corporate citizen to the environment, our employees and our communities.” KeepCup also have long-standing relationships with conservation organisations like Sea Shepherd.
In 2018, KeepCup conducted a “Life Cycle Assessment” of their products. The results of this Life Cycle Assessment showed that KeepCups have a lower environmental impact than their single-use paper/polypropylene counterparts after just 24 days of use. The Life Cycle Assessment came to this conclusion assuming one use per day for each KeepCup. Of course in reality you can reuse your KeepCup many times per day, depending on your coffee consumption. A simple rinse in water and you are good to go again. The Life Cycle Assessment also concluded that after just 10 days KeepCups have a lower impact than their compostable disposable counterparts (again assuming just 1 use per day).
KeepCup have advocated for legislative action that would ban single use packaging since 2009, and KeepCup have stated that they hope to see the world free of single-use packaging by 2023.
I often think Australia are streets ahead of Ireland in terms of their consideration for the environment and focus on sustainability. Here in Ireland a government funded project Recycling List Ireland found that up to 200 million single use coffee cups are thrown away every year in Ireland alone. This works out at a shocking 528,000 per day. Or 22,000 per hour. Let’s go further, 366 per minute, or 6 per second single use disposable coffee cups in Ireland inevitably ending up in landfill.
One of the huge challenges of course is to increase awareness that these innocuous looking paper cups are in fact lined with polyethylene, rendering then un-recyclable. Why then do so many carry the recycling logo on them? Well because they COULD in theory be recycled if we had the correct facilities here in Ireland. The lids usually can be recycled, and the cardboard sleeves used to stop your fingers burning can be recycled too. But wouldn’t it be better to just eliminate our dependency on disposable cups? Compostable cups are an emerging “solution” but they are often times just another version of the same problem. Compostable cups need to be subjected to very specific environmental conditions for them to biodegrade properly. Usually these compostable cups just end up in the same bin as everything else, and ultimately end up in landfill too. Landfill does not provide the correct environmental conditions for them to biodegrade properly or safely. Steps in are progressing slowly in Ireland.
Minister for Climate Action (2016-2018) Denis Naughten considered a number of environmental levies on disposable single use plastic items that are not recyclable. This was followed up by the current Minister for Climate Action Richard Burton who confirmed the “latte levy” would be introduced. The new levy up up to 25 cent on a disposable coffee cup hasn’t been completely finalised. The levy of 10-25 cent per cup (all single use disposable cups, even compostable ones) will be confirmed after some market research. The latte levy will come into effect from 2021. The money raised from such levies are planned to be invested in environmental initiatives that tackle waste and litter problems in Ireland. KeepCup were the early leaders in the emerging awareness of the worlds waste issues specific to coffee consumption. Now with the word spreading, KeepCup continue to campaign tirelessly in their efforts to eliminate single use disposable coffee cups.
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