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Moving beyond throw-away cups

Cafes and coffee drinkers in Mercury Bay are being asked to clean up their act by putting an end to throw-away cups or single use cups (SUCs), and some local businesses are already taking action with ecofriendly alternatives.
 |  Kat Neilson-Jones  | 

The move, driven by waste minimising trust Wāhi Tukurua, looks to phase out the plastic-lined take-away cups of which an estimated 250,000 end up in landfill each year from Mercury Bay alone.

The cups, most of which appear to be cardboard, are not recyclable because of the plastic content and nearly all those which claim to be compostable, require a commercial composter not available in the Thames Coromandel region.

Overflowing rubbish bins in Whitianga and surrounding streets in summer bear witness to the problem, with coffee cups a regular feature amongst the waste. Now the landfill that takes our waste is close to full and Wāhi Tukurua spokesperson Tiffany Reed says enough is enough.

She likens the move away from SUC)s to the end of plastic bags.

‘At first there were a lot of people worried about how they would manage without the plastic carry-bags, but now we are all taking our own bags and probably wouldn’t be seen dead with a plastic one!” she says.

The step away from SUC’s is in line with work already carried out in Aotea/Great Barrier Island – where SUC’s are no longer an option – and Wanaka which is well on the way to phasing them out.

Colenso Café and Nook Grocers + Refills are both well into the process of replacing SUCs with eco-friendly options.

Welcome Chunky Cups: NG+R owner, Georgia Gilsenan-Fitzgerald, says she has always offered loan cups and mugs, encouraged people to bring their own keep cups and deterred the use of SUC’s by charging extra for them. She is now using the Chunky Cup system which allows a customer to purchase a stainless-steel cup for $10 which they can then return for a refund at any participating outlet or swap out for a clean one with their next purchase.

Colenso Café are doing similar and also suggesting people stop, relax and enjoy their cuppa in house. Owners Dean and Leah Walker say SUCs do not fit with their values around waste reduction and they will not be repurchasing once the current supply runs out.

Tiffany believes Mercury Bay and the Coromandel Peninsula can do what others have already achieved and she encourages people to see this as one small action they can take in the war on waste.

At the markets in Whitianga on Kings Birthday weekend, a very good trade was being done in the Chunky Cups

Wāhi Tukurua team are leading this excellent campaign for you to purchase a $10 reusable cup.

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Kat is a Trustee of Wahi Tukurua, Mercury Bay Resource Recovery Trust