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Intrepid Irishmen Working To Solve Disposable Coffee Cup Addiction

by Rudy Sanchez on 12/02/2019 | 2 Minute Read

That daily stop at the coffee shop for that cup of go-go bean juice is a ritual familiar to most, but it generates an enormous amount of trash in the form of disposable cups and lids that contribute to the growing issue of plastic pollution. 

In a somewhat surprising move, shopkeepers are taking a stand and introducing more sustainable practices, even if it comes at a slight inconvenience to patrons. It’s not just giants like Dunkin’eliminating popular yet eco-unfriendly practices, as one Irish coffeehouse is going a couple of steps further by removing all single-use cups.

As reported by The Irish Times, Eion Cluskey, owner of Dublin’s Bread 41, started experimenting with the idea by introducing the policy on Mondays to eliminate takeaway cups every day in just a few months. To ease the transition, he initially gave away Keep Cups on Monday but saw that by week three, that was no longer necessary. And while business dipped initially, it eventually returned to previous levels.

“Unless somebody does something, nothing gets done,” he told The Irish Times, “And that is why by the end of February we are hoping that every day will be like Mondays and you won’t be able to get a single-use cup in our shop. Reusable is the only way to go.”

Cluskey isn’t alone in recognizing how much to-go coffee contributes to the world’s trash epidemic. Kevin Murphy, also of Ireland, launched a deposit and return program for the Emerald Isle’s coffee shops called 2gocup. Participating outlets serve their beverages in the company’s reusable cups, the customer pays a one euro deposit, then returns the cup for their deposit back, or gets a refill. The program’s website claims they’ve been able to save over 2.5 million single-use cups from landfills to date.

Editorial photograph

The Irish government has also taken stock in the amount of trash the coffee-sipping citizenry generates and has announced a “latte levy” of 0.25 euros for every disposable cup served, starting in 2021. The hope is that the tax will push more of the nation’s coffee consumers to adopt reusable and refillable Keep Cups and remove a source of plastic pollution.

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