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Island takes aim at single use coffee cups

23 November 2023

Recycling is a particular issue for island communities, and so this summer visitors to Aotea Great Barrier Island seeking refreshment will have to bring or borrow their own coffee cups. 

Since October 1, almost all the island’s coffee retailers have been offering alternatives to single use takeaway cups. 

“We’re lucky on Aotea because we’re small, so something like this is totally doable,” says Jo O’Reilly, director of Anamata, Aotea’s resource recovery centre and driver of the scheme. 

“What most visitors to the island probably don’t realise is that every bit of landfill waste must get shipped back to the mainland at a huge cost. We’re doing all we can to reduce those volumes.” 

Coffee drinkers will have four options: to sit down and drink in place, bring their own keep cups, use a mug from the café’s mug library, or buy a $10 stainless steel cup from the island-wide “borrow” scheme which can then be returned to any outlet for a refund.  

The aim is to remove the 50,000 single use cups that the island was dealing with annually.  

Anamata’s vision got an extra push after some of the island’s hospitality businesses attended the Taurikura Initiative, a sustainability course run by TIA’s Megan Williams and Gisela Purcell for Tataki Auckland Unlimited. 

My Fat Puku café owners Julie and Brett Walford, who were on the course, are part of the coffee cup scheme.  

They have been monitoring the number of takeaway cups, keep cups and store cups used, and watching the use of takeaway cups fall away without any change in demand. 

“We are so pleased to be part of this initiative and are amazed at the 'buy in’ from our community,” Brett says. 

“Also, visitors to our cafe are very receptive about Aotea’s stance with most changing their minds about takeaways preferring to sit and enjoy their coffees.” 

Another café owner, Rochelle at Pa Beach Café, said the transition had been “very smooth”. 

“If folks forget their cups, they are just saying, 'Ya know what? I'll just have mine to stay then' and we've seen an increase in people eating in, slowing down and catching up. This has given us the priceless gift of time." 

Thanks to our strategic partners

Thanks to our strategic partners

Thanks to our strategic partners