Can A Café Legally Refuse My Keep Cup?

There are powerful environmental reasons for you to get your caffeine hit in a reusable cup.

500 billion disposable coffee cups are produced globally each year. The majority of these end up in landfill. Tweet this!

Of these 500 billion cups, most are lined with plastic to prevent leakage. Meaning that even if you did try to do the right thing and recycle you'd have to physically tear at the plastic lining; which is a step that many of us wouldn't consider, or bother doing.

The alternative is to sit in and have your coffee (you've earned it), or to bring a mug or reusable keep cup – like these 1 Million Women ones. But every now and then you might have a café refuse your cup; here are the most commons reasons why, and how to refute them:

It's not legal for safety reasons:

The Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code says nothing that would prevent a business from accepting a keep cup. Some times a barista or café owner might not know this and are just trying to cover their tracks. In this case fill them in and let them know about the 1 million disposable cups that end up in landfill each minute! Tweet this fact.

A quick search for the US and UK food safety standards came back with the same result. So from a legal perspective you're clear.

A note on this: Some cafes won't accept your keep cup if you hand it to them dirty, which is totally fair! If they're busy they won't have time to wash your cup (and as a adult you should have done that already), so it's understandable that they would refuse your keep cup if it isn't clean.

We're too busy:

This is an odd one but it happened to our social media coordinator! She asked to use a keep cup but didn't want the order written on a plastic lid – because that would defeat the whole purpose – the café said they were too busy to do that so she ended up taking her business to the place next door!

Top tip: to avoid this situation you can write your coffee order on your cup in permanent marker

Personal action if often overlooked, and people deflect responsibility by saying, "one person won't make a difference". On one level this is true, but one person does have the power to influence others, and once we have large groups of people making personal change then we'll begin to see real progress!

In Australia, we have a network called Responsible Cafes; participating outlets will offer a discount to patrons that BYO a cup!

Bringing a keep cup can feel a bit awkward at first, because you're going against the grain, but we're working to create a new normal! We live in a culture of convenience, but that doesn't mean that it can't also be a culture with a conscience.

And if you fall off the band-wagon and forget your keep cup a few times, just relax, read this article, and start fresh the next day!

READ THIS NEXT: Germany's zero-waste supermarket and why we love it

Banner image: Shutterstock

Bindi Donnelly Former Head of Digital Suggest an article Send us an email

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