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Contactless Coffee pilot comes to Bristol in a bid to keep reusables on the menu

22nd May 2020

Categories: Latest News

Today, Friday 22nd May City to Sea, the Bristol based award-winning organisation that are turning the tide on single-use plastic, have launched their new campaign #ContactlessCoffee, in a bid to help cafes and restaurants looking to reopen after lockdown, with simple advice on how they can accept reusable coffee cups.

A new pilot with Bristol-based retailer and cafe Better Food, sees City to Sea share a short video highlighting the latest best practice, with plans to give support and guidance as weeks go on, including establishing a national action group on reusables.

The mass of miss information

Alarmed by the misinformation around reported increased hygiene benefits of single-use plastics in response to Coronavirus and a reverse in some imminent plastic legislation around straws and stirrers by Government, City to Sea have created a best practice guidance to support cafes, take-aways and restaurants as they reopen. The organisation is leading the charge to ensure consumers can still safely take reusables to their favourite cafes and take-aways as they reopen.

Rebecca Burgess, CEO of City to Sea who is leading the action group said today: “Bristol is a trailblazer in the green movement, so it is the perfect city to launch our pilot. As Coronavirus hit the UK it became clear that there has been a surge in single-use plastics and as we come out the other side, we are keen to not only support coffee chains, local independents and restaurants, but also not let the great strides towards reusables slip.

She added: “I am saddened to see the plastics industry feeding on people’s fear to push its own agenda. Despite what the plastic industry wants us to believe, single-use plastic is no safer. While Coronavirus doesn’t care which we use, when it comes to the planet, there is a BIG difference between single-use and reusable.”

Reusables during coronavirus

Rebecca continued: “Safety is quite rightly the number one priority for all of us right now and, if you’re starting to think about reopening, we totally understand why you may be considering offering single-use coffee cups only. 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.

So, whether it’s single use or reusable, Coronavirus doesn't care - but our planet does. If there was ever a time to question the veracity of the plastics industry’s claims, it's now, when it is desperately trying to hold on to the market while the sky is falling in its boardrooms.”

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. With the Government guidance currently saying “It is up to the individual business to decide whether they allow the use of reusable cups or containers during this period”, City to Sea want to support businesses in making the right decision and doing some of the hard work for them by coming up with guidance and support.

According to Google Trends, over the past 90 days search interest in “How to live a sustainable lifestyle” has increased by a staggering 4,550%. Furthermore, the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) recently found that 98% of businesses on their recent ‘reopening right’ webinar are willing and able to focus on environmental and social sustainability on re-opening.

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! That’s why, in partnership with Better Food, we’ve developed the following guidance, being tested through the joint pilot:

  1. Customer places their clean reusable cup (lid off) on a designated tray and steps back two metres.
  2. The barista takes the tray with the customers 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 attendant pours the coffee and milk into the customer’s cup (no latte art!), takes the tray back to till and steps back two metres.
  4. Customer enjoys coffee in their favourite reusable coffee cup and reduces single use cups – high five to you!

Gene Joyner, Managing Director of Better Food said today: “As we prepared to reopen our coffee counter, we asked our customers what they wanted us to do about reusables. An overwhelming 80% said they wanted to be able to use them. After some initial concerns about making sure staff and customers were safe and that we could serve a great coffee we have been reassured. The guidance will mean one less headache for hospitality businesses as they move to reopen.”

City to Sea have created this video to show how it works in practice.

They are happy to hear from any Bristol based business offering take-away coffee and wanting to be part of the pilot.

City to Sea will be working closely with Better Food and others over the coming weeks, to help get businesses back up on their feet in the safest, most responsible way and in alignment with Government guidance.

Their big ambition is to see businesses of all shapes, sizes and locations pledge to re-introduce reusables in time for Plastic Free July. And tell City to Sea on social via #ContactlessCoffee so they can offer support and encouragement.

If you’re a coffee lover or just love our planet, City to Sea are also asking consumers to share the video and tag in their favourite local café to help them take action. They are encouraging people to treat themselves to coffee whilst doing their shopping rather than making a special trip.

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