Single Use Cups Are Phasing Out And you Have a Choice

Single Use Cups Are Phasing Out And you Have a Choice

Posted by Huskee on 1st Jun 2023

Around the world, single-use coffee cups are a daily sight in every city. We have become accustomed to getting our caffeine fix in convenient paper cups, but many do not know the true environmental impact of single-use cups. 'Paper' cups are made of paper, which contains a plastic liner that does not allow them to break down easily, are often not recyclable, and are harmful to the environment.

History of the Paper Cup

The invention of the disposable cup started as a need to address public health concerns around public drinking water and was driven by the temperance movement in 19th-century Europe. To curb alcoholic consumption, public drinking wells were installed to promote drinking water. These fountains often had metal cups attached, which were rarely cleaned. Fresh off the fears of the Spanish Flu in 1918 and to combat this, Lawrence Lullen patented a paper cup called the 'Health Kup' in 1912 as an 'innovation in hygiene' in the USA. This company went on to be known as Dixie Cup in 1943. Today, there are hundreds of manufacturers of disposable coffee cups and lid products and we have built a habit that is hard to break.

Public Awareness

As the awareness of environmental problems increases, the public has been pushing for the implementation of environmental solutions in their daily routines. In response to this, many countries have started to phase out single-use coffee cups. The UK is one of the leading countries in this movement, and have set a target of phasing out all single-use cups by 2025. Many high street coffee shops have already taken measures to reduce the use of single-use coffee cups, particularly those made of plastic and that are non-recyclable. Single-use coffee cups are a major source of waste. In the United States alone, an estimated 500 million disposable coffee cups are used every day. In Australia, we use over 1 billion disposable cups and lids every year. Most of these cups end up in landfill, where they can take hundreds of years to decompose.

In recent years, there has been a growing movement to ban single-use coffee cups. In 2018, Seattle became the first major U.S. city to ban single-use plastic service ware items. Other cities, such as San Francisco and New York City, are considering similar bans. In Australia, Western Australia has been the first state to ban plastic-lined disposable coffee cups and lids in February 2023.

Challenge & Choice

When deciding between compostable and reusable cups, there are compelling reasons to prefer the use of reusable cups. While both alternatives lower the carbon footprint caused by single-use cups, reusable cups have several advantages over compostable cups: 

Firstly, using a reusable swap system can save cafe owners money. When customers bring their own cups, the cafe does not have to pay for the cost of single-use cups. This can save the cafe hundreds or even thousands of dollars each year. Some systems like HuskeeSwap even add an additional revenue stream for the cafe. 

Second, using reusable cups multiple times significantly reduces the number of cups going to waste, which is a big cost to the business and the planet. A well-made reusable coffee cup can last for years and can hold up to a lot of wear and tear without breaking or losing its insulation, saving hundreds to thousands of cupsbeing used in it's lifetime. 

Third, going back to the issue of health concern that was the impetus of paper cups in the first place; reuse systems offer a particular advantage for public health. Swap systems allow cafes to hygienically clean cups using their own commercial dishwasher, and not rely on the public. In essence, reusable cups are no different than any other dine-in service but simply in a takeaway form. 

Finally, a reusable swap system can improve customer loyalty. When customers know that their cafe is committed to sustainability, they are more likely to return. This can help to increase sales and boost profits. 

While banning single-use coffee cups would be considered a good thing for the environment and one way to approach the problem, it can also pose a challenge for cafe owners and coffee sales are a major source of revenue for many cafes. The costs in time and effort to switch to a new method of service can often be daunting, and many simply switch to another 'more sustainable' single-use option. How can cafe owners reduce their reliance on single-use coffee cups without losing customers? 

The solution often relies on switching to a system that is equally convenient to the business and their customers, offers the same or better experience than existing takeaway practices, and is financially beneficial to the business instead of being a further cost to the operation. 

Fortunately, reuse systems like HuskeeSwap now offer both a solution and elegance that is convenient and compelling enough for businesses and customers to make the switch.


In conclusion, paper disposable cups started out as a solution to a problem, that like many solutions, has had some unintended negative consequences that we now have to solve. Single-use is always still single-use no matter the material and there is a better way than trying to recycle or even compost our way out of a 600 billion cups a year issue. 

As coffee shops work towards reducing the use of single-use coffee cups, reusable cups stand out as the better alternative over compostable cups due to the savings they provide, the reduction in waste at the source, and the visible commitment to solving the problem and increase in loyalty they provide. By increasing awareness of reusable cups use and making them more accessible, cafe owners can contribute to the environmental movement and achieve a loyal customer base. 

We believe that you can successfully implement a reusable swap system in your cafe and there has never been a better time. This is a great way to reduce waste, save money, and improve customer loyalty.