15 May 2019

Gungahlin cafes to only use reusable coffee cups in proposed ACT Government trial

| Lachlan Roberts
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Mark Ramsay, the owner of Frankies, even uses recycled jam jars as coffee mugs. Photos: George Tsotsos.

Gunghalin cafes might start to use only reusable coffee cups instead of disposable coffee cups under an ACT Government trial proposed by a Labor backbencher.

Suzanne Orr will address the Legislative Assembly this week to call on the ACT Government to develop a reusable coffee cup zone trial in her electorate in Gungahlin in conjunction with local businesses and organisations by the end of the year.

Under the proposed trial, Gungahlin cafes which take part in the trial will receive reusable takeaway coffee cups they can wash and re-circulate to customers.

Ms Orr said the trial would be modelled on a similar one in the German cities of Berlin, Munich and Freiburg, where the local council provided over 100 cafes with ‘Freiburg Cups’.

For the deposit of a single euro, customers can take their coffee away in a Freiburg and then get their money back once they return the cup to any participating cafe. Cafes wash and disinfect the cups, which can be reused up to 400 times.

If the trial gets the green light and is successful, Ms Orr hopes to see it rolled out across the territory.

“I am really pleased that Frankies and Atlas are already on board and keen to see the trial commence,” Ms Orr said. “A billion coffee cups go to landfill each year across Australia, so we want to eliminate the need for disposable coffee cups in the ACT.

“I am not surprised to see there is a lot of interest and I am really glad people are stepping forward and really wanting to make a go of this.”

Raspberry jam-infused cappuccino, anyone?

Frankies at Forde, who was the first in the ACT to go disposable cup-free two years ago, was approached by Ms Orr earlier this year to see if they would be interested in taking part in the proposed trial. Owner Mark Ramsay said the cafe fully supported more businesses taking part in the trial.

“We saw that there was a massive problem with the number of disposable coffee cups we were using,” Mr Ramsay said. “We were using around 45,000 cups a year so we implemented a plan to go disposable coffee cup-free.

“It has been a raging success for us so we are really happy to report that it can be done. We are more than happy to jump on board the trial because it is something that is close to our heart that we will like to see some great improvement in.

“We think Canberra could go disposable cup free, sooner rather than later.”

Reusable takeaway coffee cups will be given to cafes taking part in the trial.

Mr Ramsay said the trial could be an in-between step for cafes which are unsure they can go disposable-cup-free to take part in a trial and see how it works. When the cafe removed the option of disposable cups in 2017, he said some customers were upset but quickly adapted.

“We saw a few people who were aggrieved by it but there weren’t many though,” he shared. “We are pretty fortunate out here in the ‘burbs that we see the same people day in and day out, so it was really easy for us to get them on board with what we are doing.

“There will obviously be some leakage in coffee cups not being returned but I think the majority of people will be happy to do the right thing. It will be a small price to pay for the improvement of the environment.”

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Why not have recyclable take-away cups? Do coffee buyers who bring their own mug get a discount? A lot of buyers won’t be return clients, which makes “a single Euro” a hefty penalty. (And didn’t drinking out of jars go out five years ago? The lip is uncomfortable.)

So if you buy a coffee in a reusable cup in Gungahlin, you’ll then be able to take it on the tram? Or will there be reusable coffee cup inspectors to ensure that you have consumed every last drop prior to boarding?

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