Plastic free caffeination for Cairns

It will be it easier to get a caffeine fix without a side of single-use plastics in Cairns, with Council feeding hundreds of new re-useable ‘swap and go’ cups into the region’s cafes.

The re-useable cups can be borrowed free, like a library book, as long as they are returned to a participating café within 30 days.
Cairns Courtyard Café owner Adrienne Vearing loves the idea of keeping coffee cups out of landfill.

Around half of the participating 11 cafes are in and around the city, said Cairns Mayor Bob Manning.

“It has been more difficult to get a plastic-free takeaway coffee in the wake of COVID-19,” Cr Manning said.

“A swap and go system is one of the few options for takeaway coffee that is COVID-safe and environmentally-responsible at the moment.

“Council has purchased an additional 300 reusable takeaway cups to assist with the roll-out of the swap and go system in Cairns as a part of our commitment to supporting the community in reducing single-use plastics.”

Many of the cafes participating are also members of the Plastic Free Cairns program, another plastic-reduction program supported by Council.

The cups, which are made from recycled plastic in Queensland, can be returned unwashed. They are commercially cleaned. Each customer receives a freshly cleaned cup when ordering their drink. And patrons can have up to two cups out at a time, so forgetting once is not a problem.

The Green Caffeen app is used to keep track of the cups.

Green Caffeen operates an Australia-wide re-useable coffee cup swap and go system, avoiding over 60,000 single-use takeaway cups.

Over 250 people in Cairns have already signed up to the scheme.

One of the participating cafes operates at the Cairns Regional Council chambers.

Cairns Courtyard Café owner Adrienne Vearing said they serve up an estimated 150 cups of coffee to Council staff and community members every day.

“We serve up around 750 coffees a week so, if everyone got on board, we would be able to avoid about 1,500 items of waste a week when you count the lids and cups. But even if we save 100 cups a week from going to landfill, I’ll be happy,” said Ms Vearing.

“A lot of our customers buy takeaway coffee, but they don’t go very far away to drink it – usually to their office – so returning the cups will be easy.

“We had a big push on bringing your own cup a while back and we can’t offer that now, so this is a great alternative.”

The scheme is free for participating cafes and is consistent with requirements in the Queensland Health COVID Safe Industry Plan. Similar schemes operating in Cairns include HuskeeSwap.

Cafes and food retailers can access free, tailored support to reduce plastic packaging from Plastic Free Cairns ahead of the Queensland Government single-use plastic ban in July 2021. The program is run by the Boomerang Alliance, funded by the Queensland Government and supported by Cairns Regional Council.

Green Caffeen participating cafes are:

  • AQUA Cairns Lagoon, Cairns Esplanade
  • Blackbird Laneway, Cairns City
  • Silk Caffe, Cairns City
  • Providore Amore, Cairns City
  • White Whale Coffee Roasters, Portsmith
  • Cairns Courtyard Café, Portsmith
  • Blackbird Warehouse, Bungalow
  • The Healthy Hub, Cairns North
  • The Palms Cairns, Aeroglen
  • District, Holloways Beach
  • Café Yorkeys, Yorkeys Knob

HuskeeSwap participating cafés are:

  • Smith Street Café, Cairns CBD

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