War on Waste Vs Covid-19

Since Responsible Cafes was flung into Australian homes via TV’s during The War on Waste, we estimate that we have saved an approximate 174 million* cups from landfill.

For the last few years we have been chipping away at the reusable message and starting to gain some great traction with reusable cups becoming quite the norm… until Covid-19 hit and your reusable is most likely sitting in your cupboard gaining dust! Can we save the reusable message amongst the Covid-19 fear that has spread through the cafe community and beyond? We have put together some myth busting facts to help you navigate through this challenging time and hopefully get that reusable out for some responsible social distance coffee.

1. Is it illegal to use a reusable coffee cup in a cafe due to Covid-19? 

Short answer is no!! At the time of writing this article, there is no known legislation that says a cafe can’t accept a reusable container. However some states have stopped supporting reusables, QLD for one does not accept reusables as part of their Covid safe plan. 

2. Is single-use safer than reusables?

No – not if the reusable has been washed properly and handled correctly. There is nothing to say that a single use cup has not been infected during it’s life cycle and during the exchange to a customer.

3. How long does Covid-19 last on surfaces?

Recent research search shows that the virus can live for up to 72 hours on hard shiny surfaces (glass counters, plastic containers etc) and 24 hours on porous surfaces (paper cups, cardboard etc). The big thing to remember is to clean surfaces properly following Australian food safety standards, keeping your staff and customers safe. More info here.

 4. How can I serve a contactless coffee?

Here are some options:

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

b) If your customers are not allowed close to the coffee serving counter, you can pour the coffee into one of your drink-in cups, walk it over the customer and pour this into their cup for them. (See video below)

c) Look into some great cup swap schemes. More info below!

5. How can a cup swap scheme work for me during Covid-19? 

Now is a great time to review your cafe logistics. A good cup swap scheme is a great way of keeping your waste down and managing reusable cups the way you want to. Huskee Swap is a great example with a simple swap system and added cost benefits as the customer buys the cup from you to get started. Here is how it works in a nutshell:

  1. A customer either brings their own HuskeeCup, or buys one from you
  2. You put this one aside to be commercially cleaned and sanitised in your washing system at a more convenient time. Some cafes have a collection bucket ready for cups to be dropped off.
  3. Instead of serving them in the same cup, you swap their cup for a pre-washed HuskeeCup!

All you need to do is create a wholesale account here, and use the code responsiblecafes5aff at the checkout (details below).

Huskee recommends a minimum of 4x6oz, 4x8oz and 4x12oz (plus lids) for the ‘float’ and HuskeeCups for retail. For more info around integrating order ahead, setting up your till, & best practices visit HuskeeSwap Support or reach out to swap@huskee.co.

We have a special Responsible Cafes discount offer for cafes – 5% off wholesale price when purchasing over $150 with Free shipping Australia Wide. The good beans have offered us a small donation for any cup sold so winners all round! Once logged into your wholesale account just use the promo code responsiblecafes5aff

You can then sign up for HuskeeSwap below and once activated, you’ll receive a Merchandise Pack with POS Stand: https://swapcafe.huskee.co/session/signup


Any keen beans interested in purchasing a Huskee cup, use the code responsiblecafes10aff to get 10% off on retail price via https://huskee.co  🙂

6. How can I reduce the chances of infection? 

 We are all surrounded by people and surfaces. Reducing contact is obviously the most effective way to reduce infection but not always possible. The best advice out there is to WASH YOUR HANDS – think of them as evil germ tentacles. And if you can’t do this, then use hand sanitizer. Your own hands are your biggest enemy. Also avoid touching any parts of your face in between hand washes. More info here https://www.freshfoodsafety.org/news


7. What else can I do to reduce single use plastic waste during this time?  

a) Ask customers if they want a lid on their coffee? That pesky plastic lid is a huge litter bug and ends up on many of Australia’s beautiful shore lines. Let’s try and avoid this. Here is silly but helpful poster for you to download, print off and pop up if you think it is appropriate for your customers. It might put a few smiles on faces too! 

b) Explore the use of compostable grade containers. Check out compostable gear from Compostable Alternatives – there is 10% off for all Responsible Cafes with the code responsiblecafes10 to make the products more affordable for you (please note, this is not a commercial partnership – we just want to try and help you out!). 

c) If you are running takeaway services ditch the plastic cutlery, straws, napkins and condiments!

8. Can the Virus live on food? 

According Australia New Zealand Food Standard there is NO evidence for foodborne transmission of COVID-19 and no reported cases of COVID-19 have been linked to contamination of food. It is always advisable to wash fresh fruit and veg before serving. Don’t use soap or disinfectants… obvs.  It isn’t made for eating. 

9. I am feeling really anxious about the crisis. 

 Of course you do! It is a very uncertain time for many with financial and personal stresses adding to the challenges of everyday life. If you or your team are feeling blue get in touch with https://coronavirus.beyondblue.org.au/ and talk it through with a professional. Or have a chat over a virtual coffee hang with one of your best buddies and get air some of your problems

10. Have we lost the reusable revolution?

NO WAY! We are just getting started. We are all responsible for our actions and we are working to adapt our program and work with the industry to meet the changing needs of the community. If you want to support what we do head please head to Responsiblecafes.org to find out more.

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*Based on a recent survey which concluded that a Responsible Cafe saves 35.2 cups per days from landfill