Reusable coffee cup start-up aims to change New Zealand

The Government's crackdown on single-use plastics has left some manufacturers sweating over how to change their ways.

One initiative is getting in ahead of the game, encouraging people to rent a reusable coffee cup instead of sending one to the bin.

Every year in New Zealand, 295 million takeaway cups go into landfill. Wellington-based startup Again Again hopes to turn the tide on the dark side of Kiwis' coffee addiction.

"We'd forecast that in five to ten years time, that'll be the thing. Single-use cups won't be present, just as shopping bags are no longer part of our world," Again Again co-founder Nada Piatek says.

Customers pay a $3 bond for a steel takeaway cup and can return it to any other participating cafe around the country to get their deposit back.

"We don't police it, but we make it really easy for them to get the cup back, and not particularly attractive for them to hold onto it," Piatek says.

Starting in November 2018 across 14 Wellington cafes, the initiative is now in more than 170 nationwide.

Piatek estimates at least 600,000 cups have been saved from the landfill within the first year. By the end of the summer, she hopes it could reach a million.

"I can see that this can be a way that we can interact with our takeaway items, not just coffee but throughout all sorts of industries in the future, and believe this is just the start of it," she says.

Again Again was highlighted in the Government's recent Rethinking Plastics report. Piatek wants the Government to ban all single-use petroleum-based plastics - including paper cups with a lining.

"While I believe consumers have the ability to solve the problem by making personal choices, I don't believe that it's on the consumers to be solely responsible for that," she says.

Some people will always remember to use their own cup, while others will resist no matter what. Then there are people in the middle, who Piatek calls the "persuadables".

"We are really careful not to guilt people. It's a journey for all of us," she says.

A journey she hopes will end single-use culture.