Meet the cupped crusader… 

Sam Scott and Suburban Kitchen manager Nicole Voss with the reusable cups that are proving a hit with customers.

Sam Scott is a man on a mission.  The Waikato University business student has teamed up with a national cup lending system called Again Again in an effort to turn Cambridge into a hot coffee spot with an environmental edge.

Sam wants to make Cambridge SUC-free – that’s Single Use Cup-free to the uninitiated. He has Gourmet Delicious behind him, but would like all town cafés to reduce waste by kicking single use cups to the kerb.

Customers at participating Again Again outlets can choose to pay a one-off deposit of $3 to rent one of their reusable cups. After use, they either return it to any participating café for a full refund or exchange it for a fresh cup.  The reusable cups are stainless-steel and are topped by silicone lids. Based on the premise that silicone is not recyclable, it was considered the best of several options and one that meant the lids could be stockpiled until recycling technology advances.

“Their goal [Again Again] is to have as many cafés in the country as possible running this system,” said Sam. “My goal is to get as many cafés in Cambridge to run with it.”

Behind it all is concern about the millions of disposable cups that are tossed.

While many are marketed as compostable, it is believed only one in 400 compostable cups make it to the sort of facility capable of processing them; the rest end up in landfill. It is believed Kiwis discard 295 million single-use cups a year.

It was while working at Gourmet Delicious that Sam became aware of the problem.

“I saw how many cups were going out, particularly at major events … that was when I started looking into it.”

The company made some of the reusable cups available at one of their four outlets, Suburban Kitchen, from April 16.  Café manager Nicole Voss said they started small, but the concept has been well received.  “Since we launched, we have saved over 800 single-use cups.”

Sam’s initiative has been endorsed by the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce, with CEO Kelly Bouzaid saying the effort required to switch to a ‘keep cup’ mindset from both baristas and customers is well worth it.

Gourmet Delicious owners Kim Moodie and Ali Foers liaised with Kelly early last year as they pondered ways in which the town might move to widespread use of reusable coffee cups.  The Covid-19 lockdown put the topic on ice for a while, but meant they were already halfway there when Sam raised his concerns.  All are convinced that the move away from plastic shopping bags is proof that consumers can adapt to reusable cups.

“We’re going to see how it goes at Suburban Kitchen, and then roll it out to our other outlets,” said Ali. “At this stage, it looks as though it’s going quite well.”

Kim said: “I’d like to see an end to the manufacture of single-use cups altogether. There is no reason we can’t move in that direction.”

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