The Coffee Collective: Closed-Loop Coffee Cups in Copenhagen


The Coffee Collective

While the wonderful folks at KeepCup have done an incredible job at shifting people away from single-use takeaway coffee cups, there are still so many times I get to a cafe only to realise I’ve left my KeepCup at home or on my desk, or worse, it’s in my bag but still unwashed from yesterday’s coffee. And if I don’t have time to sit and drink a coffee, I might get a coffee in a takeaway paper cup. But I reassure myself that these are mostly biodegradable now, right? But in fact, biodegradable products need composting systems to actually break down. So sending these cups to landfill or even recycling them doesn’t mean they will biodegrade. There are even reports that the plastic-coated paper cups can’t even be recycled in some city recycling systems!  

Now, Copenhagen specialty coffee gurus The Coffee Collective have brought takeaway coffee one step closer towards sustainability. They’ve developed a closed loop system with an organic bamboo fibre reusable cup. You make a one-off payment for a bamboo cup and get a free coffee to boot, you drink the coffee, snap the lid shut (it’s leak-proof so you can pop it in your bag without worrying), and then next time you go for coffee at The Coffee Collective, you hand in your unclean bamboo cup and get your next coffee in a washed bamboo cup. And on it goes...

The Coffee Collective

Effectively, The Coffee Collective have created a rental system for takeaway coffee cups and the initial fee is to “join the club”. Think of it like a membership fee. They provide the service of waste-free takeaway coffee as well as a cleaning service so you don’t have to think about cleaning your reusable cup when you get home.

When the cup has reached the end of its usable life (it can be washed and reused over and over, they've tested 50 times so far) or if it breaks, it will be sent to the right disposal system to biodegrade, and the silicon components will be melted down and turned into something new.

The Coffee Collective acknowledge that this system might not work for everyone but are encouraging their regulars to experiment with the closed-loop takeaway coffee cup. In fact, Copenhageners loved the idea so much that The Coffee Collective ran out of bamboo cups within the first few weeks. But take heart, they are back in stock now. Having launched just over a month ago, we’re looking forward to seeing how this system pans out and our fingers are crossed that it’s something we’ll see in Australia before long.

Until then, what you can do:

  • Don't take away — drink your coffee from ceramic cups at the cafe
  • Bring your own reusable cup
  • Refuse a lid — if you don't need the lid don't take one
  • Choose a cup made from rapidly renewable resources like managed plantation paper board (however this requires some investigation!)

Tips from Tim Silverwood of Take3 on ABC.

Visit The Coffee Collective’s website to find out more.