Wānaka cafés work to ditch all single-use coffee cups by 2022

Café owners in Wānaka want to ditch all single-use coffee cups by 2022, with three of the town's cafés already refusing to sell any disposable cups. 

A single-use coffee cup is handed over at a café (file). Source:

They're part of a coffee culture revolution in this country that started with boutique and neighbourhood cafés, but that's now seeing bigger industry players and universities signing up. 

The growing trend is in part being made possible by takeaway cup lending schemes like 'Again Again'. Since it first launched in Wellington back in November 2018, it has now spread to Auckland, Christchurch and Wānaka. 

Again Again's Founder and Director, Nada Piatek, and SUC Free Wānaka's (single-use cup free) spokesperson Brona Parsons joined Lynn Freeman on RNZ's Nine to Noon.

Ms Piatek explains that Again Again works by customers choosing to borrow one of the cups at the point of sale with a $3 deposit, which is fully refunded when the cup is returned to any café in the network. She says the scheme is taking off.

"It's exploded. It's been a very fast and furious year. We now have more than 170 cafés across the country."

She says it works well for cafés from a marketing perspective, because customers want to be a part of waste minimisation. 

"We found that a few cafés who've made the very bold move of getting rid of single-use cups altogether have really seen that the support from the community is overwhelming. If anything, there's actually been an increase in coffee sales where people have gone out of their way to support them."

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The city's landfill has stopped taking single-use coffee cups, prompting a new solution to be found. Source: 1 NEWS

New Zealanders send an estimated 295 million cups to landfill each year. Ms Piatek says they estimate that Again Again diverts around 600,000 cups annually. 

"It's certainly met and exceeded our expectations and it's really heartening to see how well the community has gotten on board." 

Ms Parsons from SUC Free Wānaka says part of their success could be down Wānaka being a small and tight-knit community. 

"We all know each other, we all chat to each other about what's going on." 

The goal for the group is to be SUC free by 2022. It's a big goal, but she believes they can get it done.

"We are definitely confident it can be done by 2022. Already we have three cafés that have totally gotten rid of the single-use cups and only offer BYO or Again Again."

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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

Her own café will be getting rid of single-use cups at the end of this month. 

"For us, the bigger picture is just trying to get everybody used to the idea that they have to bring their own or can borrow one. You can already see the change among the locals and wider community."