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The Reuse Imperative

The Reuse Imperative

The Reuse Imperative

Dec 02, 2020 8 min(s) read

Our friends in the global coffee industry are among those facing immense challenges – cafes, roasters and growers. Still, we tend to believe that every crisis presents an opportunity to grow stronger on the other side...

As we emerge from lock down, many cafes are recommitting to reusables and refusing to serve single-use cups, positive signs are emerging and cafes are committing to removing single-use cups entirely as they emerge from lockdown restrictions.

In June 119 scientists from 18 countries signed a joint statement highlighting that reuse can and does safely continue.

What does the science say?

Food safety regulations have been designed to prevent the spread of communicable diseases like COVID19. While some cafes temporarily stopped accepting reusable cups during the height of the pandemic, the evidence is now clear that a single-use cup is a poor substitute for a KeepCup that is properly cleaned by its owner.

Cafes that implemented short term reusable cup bans have usually done so voluntarily rather than in response to food safety directives. These changes were introduced at a time when the world knew less about the spread of this new virus than it does now.

Sanjaya Senanayake, Associate Professor of Medicine at the Australian National University has confirmed that there's no proven benefit to using disposable cups instead of reusables. Single-use cups are not a sterile fix-all. They can harbor viruses and bacteria and, as highlighted by Upstream, "are subject to whatever pathogens have settled on them from manufacture, transport, inventory stocking, and eventual use.”

The World Health Organisation, states that hand washing is one of the best ways to combat viral spread.

The same approach applies to all reusables. Clean hands. Clean KeepCup.

“If you’re regularly cleaning stuff, you should be fine. I wouldn’t expect any virus to survive a dishwasher.” ~ Vineet Menachery, Assistant Professor of Microbiology, University of Texas Medical Branch 

Likewise, we know that it’s extremely unlikely to contract airborne viruses from surfaces.

“We haven’t had a confirmed case of contact transmission of SARS-CoV-2, which is the virus that causes covid-19, since this has all been occurring. You really are almost at a nil risk of getting surface contact transmission of this.” ~ Dr Ben Locwin, Epidemiologist and COVID19 Policy Advisor to the CDC.

Everyday changemakers – your actions are powerful

You have an important role to play in continuing the reuse revolution and helping to rid the world of unnecessary, problematic single-use waste.

The first part is easy: clean your cup thoroughly and return to your daily coffee routine, where you can do so safely.

Talking to your local café

It’s important to vote with your feet and support the cafes that facilitate reuse. If they won’t take your KeepCup, ask if they can reduce waste by decanting your coffee from an in-house ceramic vessel to your reusable (always hold onto your lid).

How can we help?

If you need more support on talking your networks, drop us a line at and we’ll be happy to dive into more detail.

Café reuse

We recommend cafes take the following simple steps to incorporate reuse:

  1. Follow local food safety directives, wash your hands regularly with soap and water.
  2. Accept only clean and dry KeepCups from customers and refuse any that are visibly dirty.
  3. Ask your customers to keep hold of their lid.

Dosing from a reusable café cup to KeepCup or washing reusables prior to filling are examples of other short term measures some cafes have chosen to implement.

Where to from here

Dosing from a reusable café cup to KeepCup or washing reusables prior to filling are examples of other short term measures some cafes have chosen to implement. We’ve seen hopeful signs from around the world that our pre-covid-19 freedoms will be returning in the not-too-distant future. However, in the rush to return to normal, let’s make sure we're moving forward towards a world without single-use waste.