Auckland Zoo ditches throwaway coffee cups for the sake of the environment

In the first of a 1 NEWS series on being a more sustainable consumer, Nicole Bremner looks at a move to help reduce the 300 million disposable cups thrown away in New Zealand each year.

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New Zealanders throw away more than 300 million disposable cups a year – so many businesses are starting to do their bit to tackle the issue. Source: 1 NEWS

Auckland Zoo will stop selling coffee in throwaway cups from tomorrow in a nod to the environment, bringing savings of $50,000 a year.

All take-out hot drinks will come in reusable cups, which the zoo's commercial manager Angela Clarke says will divert thousands of cups from the dump.

"When this opportunity came up it was like, this is so cool. It's such an amazing idea and we get to divert 160,000 cups from waste streams," she said.

The reusable cups cost $3 upfront, a deposit that's refunded on return.

You can keep the cup, if you prefer. 

The scheme is already gaining traction in Wellington where cafe owner Ian Davidson says many customers have taken up reusable cups.

"A lot of customers that do take it up do keep using it. We've seen a lot of return customers using these. We started with about 75 cups and almost all of them are gone in the last four months," he said.

New Zealand throws away more than 300 million cups a year. 

There's confusion over which throwaway cups are compostable, recyclable or just able to be binned, says one leading waste minimisation organisation, Wasteminz.

It's calling on industry to clearly label throwaway cups and lids.  

"We've produced some guidelines for manufacturers to say these are the things that you can do to make it less confusing, this is the wording you need to put on your product, these are the symbols you need to put on your products so people do know what to do with them," said Jenny Marshall, Wasteminz projects manager. 

Used cups are ending up in the wrong place because of the lack of clarity.

"Whenever you're not sure the best place to put it in is the rubbish bin. Otherwise what you're doing is contaminating all that really good quality recycling that's in the recycling bin or the really good compostable material in the compost bin," Ms Marshall advised.

Also from the 1 NEWS sustainable consumer series:

New Zealand tourism operators stepping up to help the environment

Plant based milk 'a better choice' than cow's milk if you're concerned about the environment

Top tips for Kiwis wanting to limit harm to the environment while on holiday