Did you know that at the moment next to no coffee cups are recycled and 8 million pieces of plastic find their way into the ocean every day? Any effort to reduce these numbers and start a conversation about our throwaway culture is a positive one in our book. If you’re in the business of food service, now is a great time to get started on decreasing coffee cup waste. To help you get started, we’ve put together some ideas in response to the movement that can help your company today:

Sell Reusable Coffee Cups

What if your customer has forgotten their reusable coffee cup or doesn’t want to pay extra for a disposable one? Making sure you have reusable cups available to buy will hopefully encourage your in-a-rush customers not to go for the disposable option. It also reduces the chance of a missed sale.

Even better, selling reusable coffee cups advertises your eco-credentials and is a great marketing opportunity. Companies like Vistaprint handily offer the opportunity to personalize cups with your business’ logo and maximise exposure to your brand — kind of like getting your customers to carry around your company-billboard in their bag. You can sell them at your point of sale and make a little extra money on the side.

If you start to notice a significant amount of people buying your personalised reusable cups or bringing their own in, why not keep a record? A noticeboard showing how many plastic cups have been saved from landfill can be motivation for your customers.

Encourage Your Customers to Stay

Sure, some people are in a hurry — but what about those with a bit more time to kill? Is your service as fast as it could be? If your employees are super speedy, perhaps those customers with five minutes to spare will enjoy their coffee in house instead of paying the fee for a takeaway cup.

Is your space as inviting as it could be? Maybe now’s the time to upgrade your comfy seating or invest in some window seats to maximize seating opportunities for customers. Check out Dezeen’s cafe page to get started with some amazing decor inspiration. Here we have another great marketing opportunity: the busier your cafe is, the more new customers will be persuaded to walk in.

Update Your Recycling Policy

So, you’ve done all you can to convince your customers to stay or use reusable cups. But what about those who still want a takeaway cup?

Veolia offers a specialist recycling service for UK business owners. They provide a specially designed bin, a personalized courier service to collect the waste and a system to double check that everything’s been done correctly. The coffee cups are then sent to one of the few recycling facilities in the UK that can separate the plastic from the rest of the cup for correct processing. Investing in this service is a fantastic way to get involved with saving the planet and saving your business money in the long-run, and will hopefully encourage mindful disposal of takeaway cups elsewhere — it’s a great opportunity for your business to be known as a place that leads by example. You can request a quote for Veolia’s services here.

Of course, cups that don’t need specialist recycling may soon be widely available. Most conventional takeout cups are hard to recycle because they have a waterproof plastic layer that’s fused onto the cardboard cup. One company, however, is looking to turn things on their head. Frugalpac has created the Frugal Cup, which has an easily-removable plastic insert meaning that the cup can be recycled pretty much anywhere. They’re in talks with a number of coffee retailers — you may be placing an order before you know it.

Think Beyond the Coffee Cup

Of course, disposable coffee cups aren’t the only plastic offender when it comes to recycling. And for a business owner that sells coffee in their shop, it’s likely that you use some of the others as well. A million plastic bottles are sold every minute — but there’s an easy way to cut down. Rather than selling bottled water, consider having a free jug of tap water — add in trimmings such as mint, cucumber and lemon to make it feel more upmarket — and glasses for your customers to help themselves to.

Plastic spoons and forks can be replaced with their stainless steel counterparts, or with recycleable alternatives made out of wood or bamboo. As for plastic straws — the victim of an anti-waste campaign taking social media by storm — these can be ditched entirely or swapped with ones made of paper, bamboo, glass or steel. Keeping paper napkins behind the counter to reduce mindless consumption and ditch plastic bags for paper ones — as with reusable coffee cups, using personalised ones is a great marketing opportunity. We like the Paper Bag Company’s eco-credentials and choice of designs.

Selling reusable coffee cups is a fantastic marketing opportunity. Ditching disposable coffee cups will not only decrease your environmental footprint, but also boost your business eco-credentials and keep you in the good books of eco-conscious consumers. Connect with your customers through personalised reusable cups stamped with your business logo, which they can show off to the world, thereby ensuring maximum brand exposure.

Once you install these types of changes, don’t forget to share them with the world. Use your business’ Instagram and Facebook accounts to share the results of your efforts and encourage others to do the same. Check out fitspo Zanna van Dijk, who’s passionate about reducing plastic waste, for serious Instagram activism inspiration.


Author Bio:

George Urdea is a co-founder of Nobly POS, a provider of EPOS systems for coffee shops, delis, restaurants and bars. He’s completed a masters in Management and Organisational Analytics and has helped build digital teams and products for companies such as BSkyB and McKinsey & Company. He co-founded Nobly POS five years ago and he is passionate about helping small businesses succeed in the POS industry.

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