Photo credit: City to Sea Contactless Coffee

A group of independent coffee shops and restaurants in Cardiff has teamed up to promote #ContactlessCoffee, and encourage the safe and hygienic use of reusable coffee cups as lockdown restrictions lift.

Pettigrew Bakery & TearoomsBloc CoffeeBrodies CoffeeDusty Knuckle, and The Little Man Garage have all pledged to accept reusable cups again as they reopen, and to offer discounts and special offers to the customers who use them.

The campaign is based on an initiative from City to Sea, the award-winning, Bristol-based organisation turning the tide on single-use plastic. They recently launched the #ContactlessCoffee campaign, which began as a pilot in Bristol, with a short video for cafes highlighting the latest best practice for accepting reusable cups safely.

Upon seeing the video on social media, a group of local Cardiff businesses got talking over Twitter and agreed it was time to bring the movement to the Welsh capital.

Jo Morley, Head of Campaigns at City to Sea said: “Plastic pollution doesn’t stop for a pandemic. As we start to come out of lockdown, it’s been brilliant to see cafes and bars open their doors once more, but restrictions have led to an inevitable increase in single-use packaging. We want to get reusables back on the menu, and we’re working with businesses to make sure they’ve got the support and guidance they need to do this safely.

She added: “I’m thrilled to see Cardiff businesses take up the baton in Wales, helping the public choose to reuse and reduce the amount of packaging that may end up littering our streets, parks and beaches.” 

David Le Masurier, co-owner of Pettigrew Tearooms and Bakery, said: “Brilliant Coffee is vital to the success of our business and in lockdown ‘grabbing a coffee with your daily bread’ was a little taste of normality for many. We saw Covid-19 instantly halt all the progress in change of behaviour towards reusable cups, so it’s great to be part of the rallying call to keep reusables coming in Cardiff.”

Alex Parker, owner of Bloc Coffee in Victoria Park, said: “The increased use of disposable coffee cups was something that concerned us, but after watching the video guide from City to Sea we could see a really simple way to reintroduce reusable cups. We’ll be encouraging our customers to bring their own wherever we can.”

Rob Cooper, founder of The Little Man Garage in Riverside, said: “We’re offering £1 off a cake or pastry for customers who bring their own cups – we’re looking forward to seeing this become the norm again.”

Phill Lewis, co-founder of Dusty Knuckle Pizza said: “Though we aren’t able to welcome people back to our sites just yet, we’re delighted to be supporting #ContactlessCoffee to raise awareness about the safety of reusables. We’ll be accepting them as we look to open our shipping container in Canton, and later, our new site at the Goodshed in Barry.”

Ian Brodie, co-founder of Brodies Coffeesaid: “Takeaway Coffee has always been at the heart of what we do and the ability to deliver great coffee both sustainably and safely in these trying times means the world. Contactless Coffee is a huge hit with our customers both regular and new – we haven’t found a drink yet that we can’t do contactless, and if you’re lucky you might even get some latte art!”

Jane Cook, who writes local sustainable food blog HungryCityHippy, said: “It has been distressing to see the rise in single use during the pandemic, but City to Sea’s video clearly illustrates that accepting reusables is both easy and safe. I am really excited to be able to enjoy takeaway coffee from my local independents in a sustainable way again.

A range of reusable cups available from Ripple Living

Other businesses across Cardiff who have indicated on social media that they are accepting reusables post-lockdown include Mec Coffee in Castle Arcade, and Wild Thing vegan café in Grangetown.

The campaign is also being supported by Cardiff’s first zero waste shop, Ripple Living, based in Roath.

Sophie Rae, founder Ripple Living, said: “With the easing of lockdown, many of our community are eager to return to support the fantastic independent coffee shops around the city. Being able to use a reusable coffee cup in a contactless transaction is a good, safe way to uphold the city’s green credentials and help business to thrive in a post COVID19 climate.”

Any business in Wales can join the initiative by checking out City to Sea’s online resources, accepting reusables and by using the #ContactlessCoffee hashtag.

Members of the public are also encouraged to get behind the campaign by snapping a picture of their reusable cups in action, tagging @citytosea_, and sharing with the hashtag #ContactlessCoffee.

City to Sea’s big ambition is to see businesses of all shapes, sizes and locations pledge to re-introduce reusables in time for Plastic Free July. 

The mass of miss information

Alarmed by the misinformation around reported increased hygiene benefits of single-use plastics in response to Coronavirus, City to Sea is leading the charge to ensure consumers can still safely take reusables to their favourite cafes and take-aways as they reopen.

Jo Morley, Head of Campaigns at City to Sea added: “Despite what the plastic industry wants us to believe, single-use plastic is no safer. Coronavirus doesn’t care which we use, but when it comes to the planet, there is a big difference between single-use and reusable.” 

Reusables during coronavirus

Jo continued: “Safety is quite rightly the number one priority for all of us right now, and it’s understandable that cafes may be considering only offering single-use coffee cups when they re-open. However, no one material is guaranteed to stop the virus. That’s why the World Health Organization and other health authorities continue to emphasise that washing our hands and sanitizing surfaces are still the best things we can be doing.”

2.5 billion coffee cups are used and thrown away each year in the UK – enough to stretch around the world roughly five and a half times, irreversibly damaging our environment and polluting our oceans.

Government guidance advises “the individual business to decide whether they allow the use of reusable cups or containers during this period”, so City to Sea want to support businesses in making the right decision by providing them with relevant guidance and support.

Over 115 health experts from eighteen countries signed a statement this week assuring retailers and consumers that reusables are safe during COVID-19, pushing back on claims made by the plastic industry. The health experts emphasize that disposable products are not inherently safer than reusables and that reusable systems can be utilized safely during the pandemic by employing basic hygiene. 

Supporting businesses to return to normal

Reusables CAN be used safely and accepting them doesn’t have to be complicated – in fact, it can be super simple!

  1. Customers place their clean reusable cup (lid off) on a designated tray and steps back two metres.
  2. The barista takes the tray with the customer’s cup over to the coffee machine, extracts the coffee into a normal crockery cup or espresso cup, and steams the milk, as required.
  3. Without touching the customer’s reusable cup, the barista pours the coffee and milk into the customer’s cup (no latte art!), takes the tray back to the till and steps back two metres.
  4. Customers enjoy coffee in their favourite reusable coffee cup and reduces the prevalence of single-use cups – high five!

City to Sea has created this video to show how the process works in practice.

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