Saturday, June 15, 2024

Hamiltonians get their fill of reusable cup initiative

More than 2,000 disposable cups have been diverted from landfill in six weeks thanks to a new initiative by Hamilton City Council which enables people to borrow a reusable cup from selected local cafes.

In a bid to combat the environmental impact of single-use coffee cups, the Council-supported initiative, ‘Let’s Reuse Hamilton’, is helping cafes across the city to implement their own sustainable cup-lending system. 

The initiative – the first of its kind locally, and amongst the first in Aotearoa New Zealand – aims to reduce this unnecessary waste to landfill and inspires people to make a more sustainable choice and do their part to fight the landfill. 

Getting behind the initiative is simple – people can either bring their own reusable cup to a participating cafe, or they can borrow one to return later. 

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Council’s Sustainable Resource Recovery Unit Director, Tania Hermann said the goal of the programme is to let customers choose reusable cups for their takeaway coffee, instead of relying on single-use disposable cups. 

“It’s estimated that New Zealanders go through more than 295 million takeaway coffee cups every year. Most of these cups and their lids will end up in landfill – as the cup’s plastic lining prevents them from being able to be recycled in New Zealand,” said Ms Hermann.

Council has a Waste Management and Minimisation Plan, a roadmap for how it will support Hamilton to reduce waste.

“One of our goals is to increase innovation and opportunities that help reduce waste to landfill – this initiative achieves that. It’s simple to use and helps people make a choice that benefits the planet as well.”      

Someone who consumes five coffees a week will send 1,300 single use coffee cups to landfill - about 14kg in a year.

All participating cafes have opted into the Again Again system. When customers visit, they can download the Again Again app, scan it at the counter, and borrow a stainless steel cup. 

When they’re ready for their next coffee, they return their cup and borrow another one. Cups can be returned to any participating cafe, fostering a community-wide commitment to sustainability.

Some participating cafes have also created their own ‘ugly mug library’ – an eclectic collection of mugs, which customers can borrow from. 

To kick-start the initiative, the Let’s Reuse team hosted a series of launch events – one at each of the participating cafes, to bring the Hamilton community together.

“The launch events were well attended and a great opportunity for people to see how easy the system is to use. It was great to see staff excited about the initiative too – knowing they were helping support their customers to make better choices,” said Ms Hermann.

The project is being delivered by Impact Hub Waikato and funded through Hamilton City Council’s Waste Minimisation Fund. The Waste Minimisation Fund is provided by the Government’s charge for waste disposal, the Ministry for the Environment’s Waste Levy.

Already, the cafes involved say they have noted an increased sense of climate empowerment amongst customers, and a greater sense of hope for the future.

Driven by their belief that every borrowed cup is a step toward a cleaner planet, the Let’s Reuse project team is encouraging locals to get behind the initiative, and help build a more sustainable future, one cup of coffee at a time.

Participating cafes are: Kopi Cafe (298 Victoria Street), Rocket Coffee Roasters (302 Barton Street), Cream Eatery (14 Garden Place), Sierra Cafe (10 Worley Place), and Weave Eatery (3 Melody Lane).

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