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Plastic Free July is inviting Australians to break their addiction to disposable coffee cups by upping their coffee cup game, with the WWF Australia and the Plastic Free Foundation calling for an improved reusable coffee cup economy.

Recent estimates from the government show takeaway coffee cups lined with plastic, and their lids, are now one of the most used single-use plastic items in the country, with recent research finding 1.84 billion single-use cups used each year.

A new survey commissioned by the not-for-profit Plastic Free Foundation revealed that a large majority of Australians regularly buy their coffee from cafes (88% of adults) and live their lives ‘on the run’, with 84 per cent of café coffee drinkers consuming takeaway coffee. 

Only a third of coffee drinkers were found to ‘always’ or ‘usually’ opt to use a BYO reusable cup or participate in a cup exchange scheme, despite 100 per cent of them owning a BYO cup.

In response to more people realising that single-use cups aren’t readily recycled and looking for easy ways to avoid them, Plastic Free July is launching the ‘Choose to Up Cup coffee cup challenge’ between 25-31 July, which aims to help people, businesses and cafes avoid the billions of single-use coffee cups going to landfill or the environment every year. 

“Coffee cups have taken the lead as Australia’s most used single-use plastic item in the country,” said Rebecca Prince-Ruiz, founder and executive director of Plastic Free July. 

“By switching from the disposable cups we use for a couple of minutes, to instead bringing our own cup for takeaways or choosing to dine-in, the Australian coffee lover can avoid 500 single-use cups a year. 

“It’s as easy as choosing to ‘Bring, Borrow or Stay’. To up your cup game, bring your own cup from home, borrow or swap one from some cafes, or take 10 minutes to stay and enjoy your favourite cuppa in-store.”

WWF Australia and the Plastics Free Foundation have released a new briefing paper, Disposable Coffee Cups: Our Unhealthy Addiction, to coincide with the Choose to Up Cup challenge, outlining the problem and policy options to increase reuse and decrease consumption of single-use cups.

“The majority of single-use coffee cups end up as landfill or as litter on our beautiful beaches and in our oceans,” said Kate Noble, No Plastics in Nature policy manager, WWF Australia. 

“It’s great to see the impact of Plastic Free July is having at the community, but we need more concerted action from governments and businesses to drive Australia’s reuse economy, and ultimately, phase out harmful and disposable products.”

To join the Choose to Up Cup coffee cup challenge, click here.

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