COFFEE, NO CUP PLEASE: River Kitchen café owner Clare Fleming is encouraging Nelsonians to think twice before opting for a takeaway cup. Photo: Kate Russell.

Charge to change coffee cup culture


A Nelson cafe owner is on a mission to get coffee drinkers to think twice before choosing takeaway cups.

Clare Fleming from River Kitchen has started charging extra for takeaway cups, giving the proceeds to a local environmental charity.

The 20 cent charge covers the cost of the cup, and even though it’s biodegradable, she is hoping it will help cut back on the 3000 – 4000 cups they churn through every month.

“Our main grudge is people asking for their coffee in a takeaway cup and then drinking it in the cafe. On some days, half of our takeaway coffees are drunk in-house,” says Clare.

“That’s our aim – to make people think about their waste.”

And even though they only started the charge on Friday, Clare says they’ve had great feedback. “I’d say 95 per cent of customers have been enthusiastic. We’ll alternate charities, this month it’s the Environment Centre.”

Clare also says since they opened five years ago, she’s seen a huge shift in people’s attitudes towards takeaway cup waste and sales of their reusable coffee cups have increased.

Another local café who is succeeding in discouraging people from reaching for the takeaway cup is Jaks Island. “We’ve created a bit of a culture here with our regulars – at least 85 per cent of our customers now bring their own cup,” says co-owner Kate Manley.

When you buy a reusable coffee cup they will fill it up with a free coffee and give you a 50 cent discount every time you use it.

“It has been a hugely popular incentive – as soon as you say ‘free coffee and 50 cent discount’, people are sold.”

While Clare thinks its “unrealistic” to completely ban takeaway cups, she would like to see more cafés switch to using compostable cups.

“They cost twice as much, but at least we know they aren’t going sit in the landfill forever.”