38% of Cafes Refuse to Wash Reusable Cups

What do you do?

According to research by Café Pulse, 38% of Australian cafes refuse to wash reusable coffee cups for their customers. We can only assume there are several factors influencing this decision – the extra time for staff on an already low-margin order, the hygiene factor (specifically in a time where people are especially cautious) and just the simple expectation that people can rinse out their own cups. 

So, what do you do at your café? Are you in the smaller but still significant number that refuse to wash cups? Or are you more than happy to wash them out for customers? Is this an issue at your café? Let’s take a look at the broader issue. 

Single-use items in the foodservice industry are certainly a hot topic. A few years ago when “War on Waste” aired on ABC many Australians woke up to the fact that nearly 300 billion of their beloved takeaway coffee cups end up in landfill each year. While most coffee drinkers are happy to make a switch to sustainable practices, new research from the University of South Australia shows that an absence of infrastructure and a general ‘throwaway’ culture is severely delaying sustainable change.

When the COVID-19 pandemic reared its ugly head, many cafes stopped accepting reusable cups. But with the new bans on single-use plastics coming into effect in South Australia (from March 1 expanded polystyrene cups, bowls, plates and clamshell containers will be prohibited from sale, supply or distribution in South Australia. Oxo-degradable plastic products will also be prohibited from production, manufacture, supply and sale in the state), and a high likelihood that other states may follow suit in time, it’s time to bring sustainability back front of mind.  

Tip Top Foodservice have started a sustainable change. Tip Top has launched 100% recyclable cardboard bread tags as part of an initiative for all Tip Top packaging to be 100% recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025. The tags are rolling out across the range of Tip Top products and you can expect to see more products joining the initiative in the coming months. 

We’re keen to help our customers become more sustainable too, and the easiest place to start is with reusable coffee cups. So, we’ve put together the most frequently asked questions around single-use cups. 

Are single-use cups safer than reusables in stopping the spread of COVID-19?

No – not if the reusable has been washed properly and handled correctly. 

Am I allowed to accept reusable cups in my café during COVID-19?

Yes! Of course! At the time of writing this article, there is no known legislation that says a cafe can’t accept a reusable container.

How can I serve a contactless coffee?

There are many options:

a) Ask customers to place their cup on the counter and pour the shot and milk in it for them. 

b) Make coffee as usual into one of your dine-in cups, walk it over the customer and pour into their cup for them (just don’t be precious about your latte art).

c) Look into cup swap schemes. 

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