Business owners who are ahead of the curve in reducing sales of single-use coffee cups are encouraging the government to do more to encourage cafes to become greener.
oin Cluskey, co-owner of Bread 41 on Pearse Street in Dublin, said the bakery is no longer serving single-use cups during the week – but her business has taken a hit as a result of the change, with some customers unhappy with the policy.
“The funniest thing was when someone commented and said, ‘Who do you think you are? Gwyneth Paltrow?’” he said.
The actress is known for her love of all things eco-friendly, and Bread 41 has since built a similar reputation.
In an email to politicians, Bread 41 CEO Stephen McKenna said he welcomed the introduction of a 20p levy on takeaway cups from the end of the year.
He included a photo of a bin overflowing with single-use cups, describing them as a “shame on society.” However, he doesn’t think the new levy will go far enough.
“I think you should consider giving a VAT rebate on take-away coffee used in reusable cups to further discourage people from single-use cups, as a flat fee of 20c is not enough to get enough change . It’s well documented that to change human behavior, the change needs to be closer to a 20 percent difference,” he said in his email to TDs.
The company takes a zero-waste approach, rolling out changes incrementally to give customers time to adapt.
Most recently, it introduced a levy on brown paper bags after noticing an increase in the waste they generate. “The quality of paper bags has gone downhill since the pandemic, with customers demanding five and six bags because they were worried they would tear, just to carry stuff to their car and then come home and put them in the bin.” throw,” said Mr. Cluskey. “It went down like a lead balloon.”
He notes that tourists are more likely to support the levies, having already seen them introduced in their own countries.
In bread 41 you bring a cup and get a discount. If you don’t bring a mug, you can sit inside and have your coffee, or you can borrow a reusable mug for a fee and bring it back later in the week. No single-use cups are sold Monday through Friday.
“Some people support it massively, some don’t. Yesterday a guy came in, I told him it’s a £1 for a reusable cup and you can bring it back and he said ‘no thanks,'” Mr Cluskey said.
“Companies don’t like it when you say that, but it’s always going to cost you. change costs. Before the pandemic we had 200 take-out coffees a day and now we’re doing 100.”
New government measures envisage a 20 cent levy on disposable coffee being introduced in the coming months. The move aims to reduce the 200 million cups thrown away each year.
It is hoped that the levy will be introduced by the end of the year.
However, for some business owners attempting to go fully sustainable, the pandemic and the cost of running a green business conspired against them.
Fiona Lily ran Simply Green Café in Ballyshannon, Co Donegal and was forced to close due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Their cafe had a zero-waste policy with no single-use cups or plates, and people in the area used to bring their own lunch boxes and storage cups.
Due to Covid-19, health inspectors said business could not continue in this format.
“It was such an amazing little place and I miss it dramatically,” Ms. Lily said.
“It was a very small building and it just wasn’t viable in the end. The main reason was that on the day I opened I had no disposable cups or lids and no disposable items.
“I’ve been campaigning for local businesses to bring their own cup and lunch box or plate from the staff room of their own business, which went down like a house on fire.
“We had lines of 27 people waiting outside the door one day. My ethos was Zero Waste and I couldn’t reopen and go against my ethos.”
Ms Lily said the huge cost of going green is deterring companies from going green.
“When I sat down at a coffee shop one day with my friend, who also ran a coffee shop, the cost she was paying per month for her compostable lids and stuff was individual bags — it was thousands,” she said.
“Take-away cups play a major role in the café industry. They’re trying to make compostable, biodegradable cups, but our system just can’t do it. The customer is obliged to throw it in a proper bin. If you throw it in a public bin, it will end up in a landfill. It’s also about educating the public.”
https://www.independent.ie/news/environment/who-do-you-think-you-are-gwyneth-paltrow-public-vent-anger-at-cafes-ditching-paper-cups-ahead-of-20c-latte-levy-41517535.html Coffee cup levy Ireland: ‘Who do you think you are? Gwyneth Paltrow?” – Public anger at cafes giving out paper cups before the 20 cent latte fee