Adelaide coffee shops start responding to takeaway cups litter and recycling problem

Cibo Espresso started encourage patrons to bring back takeaway coffee cups for recycling.

Coffee cups –­ the second largest source of litter after plastic bottles – have been the focus of growing awareness in Adelaide. One of Adelaide's largest cafe chains Cibo Espresso (30 stores, selling about 18,000 cups daily) in 2018 launched a program to encourage patrons to bring back their takeaway cups and put them in a red tube to be recycled.

Soon after, another big takeaway coffee retailer, On The Run (135 locations), responded to a backlash and reversed its ban on serving coffee in reusable cups and mugs, including its own branded containers, for “safety reasons”. It introduced a sanitisation process for customers' reusable coffee cups. On The Run said it also look at environmental measures, including eliminating single-use plastic straws and introducing biodegradable takeaway cups.

In 2017, Adelaide City Council introduced a 12-month trial of cash incentives for CBD cafes bounded by King William, Flinders and Grenfell streets and Gawler Place to cut the use of disposable coffer cups. Businesses giving a discount to customers who brought their own cup were eligible for $200 from the council. Those cafes moving to compostable cups got $500 and cafes already offering compostable cups could get $200 to improve their practices. Councillor (and future lord mayor) Sandy Verschoor suggested the War On Waste project to help counter the litter problem from takeaway coffees. Fourteen of the 27 eligible businesses in the city trail area took part but only three agreed to use 100%compostable cups.

Packaging company BioPak makes compostable cups but only six Adelaide councils accept them in their paper recycling bins and consumers were often confused about what to do with them.

The plastic lining on paper takeaway coffee cups has been the main blockage to them being recycled. Adelaide-based global packaging company Detpak has responded to that with its plastic-free RecycleMe cups concept.

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