Writers note: This article is not sponsored, we are just interested in smart ideas.
A few days ago a Sperm Whale, one of the world’s largest vulnerable animals, washed up dead on an Indonesian beach having ingested six kilograms of plastic. The stomach consisted of mostly single-use items and reportedly, 115 plastic cups, four plastic bottles, 25 plastic bags, 2 thongs (those worn on feet, not bum), a nylon sack and more than 1,000 other bits of plastic. This heartbreaking story symbolises a strong message – society’s single-use habits have to drastically evolve.
With governments very slowly catching up to change, businesses are moving much faster. One innovative business taking the coffee industry head-on is Huskee, a smart and sustainable product and closed-loop system between retailers and consumers. The brand hit headlines last year, with an aim of $20,000 on Kickstarter to fund its cup development, and raising over $100,000. With production in full swing, the aim is a sustainable, cost-effective network of exchangeable, eco-friendly coffee cups.
“Our objective was to work out how we can we make a significant change within our industry, and consequently our planet – but also add value back to everyone that participates. Our hope to make a significant positive financial impact on every cafe, create additional revenue for coffee farmers, whilst collaborating on solving a major waste problem. If we work together on this, the potential scale of change is amazing.” – Saxon Wright, Huskee Chairman and CEO, and Founder of Pablo & Rusty’s Coffee Roasters.
How does it work?
Firstly, the product – HuskeeCup. The cup itself is pretty good looking, something most of us would definitely have in our house. The cup is made from discarded coffee husk with some plastic that’s not toxic (to ensure it is durable to last for years). Its dishwasher safe, comfortable to hold and keeps your drink hot. The design is also smart, with each lid and saucer fitting any of the three cup sizes, 6oz, 8oz and 12oz. For cafes, HuskeeCup is easily stacked on top of a coffee machine for ease. The sophisticated and zero-waste design even earned them the Best in Class award at the Good Design Awards just this year.
Next, the cafe exchange. Customers in possession of a HuskeeCup will hand in their cup and lid at the counter when they place their order. Their coffee will be served up in a fresh HuskeeCup, while the old one will be cleaned and returned to the float for future use. The cup returned by the customer will then be commercially washed by the cafe, or if they’ve been damaged, sent back to Huskee for refurbishing or recycling. Pretty cool system right?
Why do we need it?
Every smart idea has to start with a why? Firstly the industry itself is riddled with waste, over 600 billion takeaway coffee cups and 1.7 million tonnes of coffee husk waste are thrown out each year and seep into the ground (FYI coffee husk is the outer layer of the coffee bean that’s discarded during the roasting process). Takeaway coffee cups are a significant issue to waste streams as they are not able to be recycled, the lids sometimes can be, due to their inner plastic lining.
The current solution for disposable takeaway coffee cups relies on the consumer to BYO reusable cups, which are fast becoming a social norm (for good reason). This solution however is linear and heavily relies on the consumer. From a service point of view, different sized (sometimes dirty) cups can also be a challenge.
Is it worth it?
Currently, there are a few cafes around Sydney, Melbourne, Tasmania and Brisbane taking part, but still a small collection. I’m betting that locations will continue to pop up significantly over the next 12 months as this business expands and grows. As a consumer, it’s a no brainer. The price of a HuskeeCup is comparable to any stylish, functional reusable cup and you get to contribute to an innovative sustainable movement.
To become a HuskeeSwap participant or find out more, visit huskee.co/swap.
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