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They say it takes takes 21 days to form a new habit… and what better habit can we get into than ditching the single-use and using reusables!

IN 2021, we were inspired to trial a new pilot project in nine cafes across Australia to supercharge and normalise the number of customers using reusables, culminating in #BYOCupDay on Friday 29 Jan. 🙌

Each week, these cafe's tallied how many of their customers used reusable cups, with the goal to see the % of reusables increase each week as their customers started to form the new habit of reuse.

On #BYOCupDay, we worked with them towards achieving the highest number reusable cups possible, which for some meant no takeaway in single-use cups!

What we did

We worked with our cafes to encourage and support their customers to increase reusables by:

  • displaying “Reusables Preferred Here” posters so that customers felt comfortable to BYO.

  • having conversations with customers about the campaign, or simply mentioning that reusables are welcome.

  • implementing reusable coffee cup swap systems which allowed customers to borrow and return cups.

  • implementing a mug library for customers to borrow a mug and return it on their next visit.

  • offering free coffees or discounts for customers who brought their own cup.

  • selling their own branded reusable cups and offering the first drink free.

  • stamping their single-use cups with a reminder for their customers to BYO next time.

  • promoting their efforts (and that of their customers) on social media.

  • encouraging customers to take selfies with their reusables, with hashtags #byoselfie and #byomugshot.

  • inviting local social media influencers to take selfies with their BYO cups.

  • encouraging customers to take ‘me-time’ and dine-in if they forgot their own cup.

  • displaying tally boards indicating that they were aiming to beat their current numbers of reusables.

  • allowing customers to participate by chalking up their own reusable cups on tally boards.

  • holding competitions with prizes for repeat customers who who were the most consistent at using their own cups.

  • promoting reusables for other items than just takeaway coffees.

The results

There was a marked increase in the use of reusables for ALL cafes involved. Results were:

The % of customers who had their drink in a reusable cup (includes dine-in figures):

1. In week one, 55% of cups used at were reusables.

2. In week two, 56% were reusables.

3. In week three, 63% were reusables.

On ‘BYO cup day’, 73% of customers used their own cup, borrowed a reusable cup or dined-in.

“Participating in the event prompted us to have a look at our ordering history. We waste 189,000 pieces of single-use takeaway coffee cups and lids a year, and could save up to $13,000 yearly across both of our stores if we promoted a greater focus on reusables.”

Blackbird Cairns


Increase in the number of reusable cups used, by comparing the last week of the campaign to the first:

“We had an amazing Use Your Own Cup Day! We are very excited to see how the numbers increase over the coming months of 2021. We are always so happy to see our customers bring in their reusable cups and we highly encourage it.”

Specialty Coffee Trader, Townsville

“Some people didn’t know that we accepted reusable cups and started bringing theirs in once they saw the signage that reusables were preferred, and staff just mentioning it to regulars also helped.

Tasha’s Place, Townsville

The % of customers who brought their own cup (excludes dine-in figures):

1. In week one, 17.5% of customers.

2. In week two, 20.3% of customers.

3. In week three, 21.2% of customers.

On ‘Use your own cup day’, 100% of customers used their own cup or dined-in.

Whilst data was not gathered, Bun Coffee reported that a number of regular customers have made the switch across to reusables cups, eliminating their daily single-use habit.

Not only this, but also the number of customers bringing along their own jars when purchasing Bun’s on-site roasted coffee beans increased.

Follow up from the campaign showed many more daily regulars converting from single-use to reusables as a consequence of the increased attention to this issue.

“Talking to our customers and especially our regulars, we're loving that they are trying hard to always bring their own cup. We've definitely seen an increase in reusable cups, and by us taking the opportunity to set up a mug library, we have seen those numbers further increase”

Bun Coffee, Byron


Why are we doing this?

Across Australia, 2.7 million single-use throwaway cups are discarded every day. They cannot be recycled in kerbside collections due to their plastic lining. They contaminate the recycling stream, end up in landfill, or worse, in our environment.

Our throwaway culture devalues all of us... everything and everyone 😢. We want to build a reuse culture and show that reuse is possible and more beneficial than single-use to businesses and our communities.

The concept of a ‘BYO Cup Day’ was inspired by UYO.NZ which started in NZ in 2018 and we’re excited to bring it to Australia.

Moving forward

We were so blown away by the feedback that we now offer this program to all our membedeveloped a toolkit (see related post) so other cafes can follow suit.

We each have the opportunity to make positive changes this year, we just have to make a start.

⁣We believe BYO reusables shouldn't just be one day of the year, it needs to be every day.. we just need to create the habit!


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