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A Coffee Ritual Revolution

We as consumers can make simple, small changes because we can. We as businesses can change our business models and inspire others because we must. We as members of our planet can solve this problem, because we should.

Bread 41 Reusable cups
Bread 41 Reusable cups made in Ireland by ECoffee Cup.

We have seen the utter pleasure of a simple morning coffee, of the tribute to the self-care ritual of having a coffee alongside your favourite pastry. We have seen a love of coffee grow deeper in those we see daily and the happy surprise of those experiencing it for the first time. We welcome and share in your love of coffee, your ritual and the preciousness of your  mornings.  

However, there is more to the story, there is a deeper problem present in every cup, every time the ritual takes place, and with that, there is an opportunity to take necessary climate-centric action.  

Over the last few years, in our goal to become a zero-waste business, we have explored a multitude of options to eradicate the dreaded single-use coffee cup, of which nearly two hundred million go to landfill in Ireland annually. In the dark land of landfills, there aren’t the necessary facilities for composting (exposure to moisture, oxygen and bacteria) so of the twenty-two thousand single-use cups used every hour, sadly only a small percentage of these are disposed ethnically.   

We see on the streets the compostable cups overflowing from black street bins, knowing they are not headed for industrial composting facilities. We see these cups, knowing they are contaminated by the drink it contained and the plastic polyethylene lining, both contributing to the difficulty of recycling. With over half a million being disposed of every day, the only solution is to reduce dependency on single-use, or eradicate them altogether – which is the point we as a business have now officially reached.  

On our coffee cup journey we have seen many innovative solutions, and we have seen the reception – the businesses that see only how it would affect operations and coffee sales, and the customers who refuse to get it. However that small percentage is entirely outweighed by the increase in coffee sales, the motivational reasons for a closed loop system and being part of the thousands of cafes offering discounts for reusable solutions – putting the planet first. The governmental support of the ‘latte levy’ and Circular Economy Act we believe will motivate the industry into halting the unabated growth of single-use packaging production.  

We as consumers can make simple, small changes because we can. We as businesses can change our business models and inspire others because we must. We as members of our planet can solve this problem, because we should. Responsible disposal is responsible consumption, we have a duty to reduce avoidable waste. Changing the warped perception is possible and educating that believing recycling is the answer simply avoids the real problem is essential. While Covid posed a huge challenge and a need for single-use, now we must work our way back and away from the 1980s ‘single-use phenomenon’, the desire of convenience and the enabling of our single-use addiction. 

Now in Bread 41, you will enjoy your ritual sitting in our warm cafe in a mug, by bringing your own reusable cup, or take it with you in one of our own Bread 41 cups that are bought with a deposit and can be returned if necessary. Made in Ireland, they are aesthetically lovely, well-made and long-lasting – a sustainable and viable solution to a daunting and ever-present problem.  

For over two years now we have not sold any single use cups from Monday to Friday, and from the 1st February we will be extending this to 7 days a week. In motivating our staff and continuing to care for them with the implementation of new environmentally friendly initiatives, they repay us with their buy-in to our vision and commitment to a sustainable future. They passionately sell our new cups and explain to the customers the utmost importance of why we do what we do. It is their buy-in that brings our devoted community on board, of which we are grateful for. It works because we all do it together, because we all care, understand and want to make an impact – and you can do the same. 

Lauren McKenna

Sustainable Development Manager