How Northern Beaches cafes are safely reducing single-use plastics during COVID-19

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic many local businesses, with our safety at heart, announced that they wouldn’t be using reusable coffee cups.

While there was a temporary acceptance of this during such a challenging time, it didn’t take long for the community to start to innovate and try new things.

This video has a video text transcript

Phil, owner of Ruby Lane in Manly started using a contactless pour system, where the barista makes the coffee in one of their stainless steel dosing cups. The barista then pours this and the warm milk directly into the reusable cup without touching the cup: a completely contactless pour.

Phil says, “It was actually one of our regular customers that asked us to use their reusable cup. We wanted to make sure everyone was safe, so we trialled a few ideas. The contactless pour is the best method for us. We are still being vigilant by washing our hands and shared surfaces regularly throughout the day. We’re stoked to be bringing sustainability back into our daily actions”

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Jacobe and Lucile from French Basket in Dee Why did not offer any disposable coffee cups. In a bold move, they asked all of their customers to either BYO reusable cup, use the Huskee Swap system, borrow a mug or dine-in.

To make sure their customers stay safe and the business still embraces their passion for reducing waste, French Basket also adopted an innovative way to serve their customers.

Customers place their clean, reusable cup directly into a tub filled with food-grade sanitising solution, which is used as per manufacturer’s directions. The cashier then rinses this cup with near boiling water from the coffee machine (which has the added bonus of warming up your cup). The barista then makes your coffee in your reusable cup and places on the counter for you to collect. The NSW Food Authority stated that “Provided the right sanitiser is used and at an appropriate strength and contact time, this should be effective in minimising any risk.”

 “We’re looking forward to having dine-in customers again when it is safe, but for now we still have a safe process for reusable cups,” said Jacobe.

A few cafes were already members of ‘Swap and Go’ systems, which helps businesses ensure that the cup is clean through their own safety and dishwashing procedures. As a business, if you’re unsure about whether your practises eliminate viruses, check the manual of your commercial dishwasher and sanitising solution. Ammonia or chlorine test kits can be used to determine sanitiser strength depending on the active chemical in your sanitiser. To ensure safety, have a contactless drop off point and standard handwashing procedures after the staff member packs the dishwasher. As mentioned in the Food Standards Code, which all food handlers are legislated to follow, staff must wash their hands “whenever their hands are likely to be a source of contamination.” Local businesses can contact our Environmental Health Officers (via customer service) with any enquiries about sanitising solutions or the Food Standards Code.    

The best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect your business is through good hygiene practices, including adhering to the existing requirements of food laws. The advice from NSW Food Authority is that businesses “do not have to accept reusable containers such as travel coffee mugs from customers, and shouldn't do so if the containers are dirty.” So please remember to be kind if your local is still at the beginning of their journey in discovering a safe way to use reusable items and let them know about these methods. We’re all in this together.

Ask your local café if they can sign up to one of these great programs or offer you a clean/contactless, sustainable coffee in a reusable cup.

If you are a café, consider signing up to a 'Swap and Go' system.  If you are newly signed up and would like to be listed below, let us know by emailing

Swap and Go Cafes on the Northern Beaches

View the locations of cafes with 'swap and go’ systems on the Northern Beaches.



Find out more about the Swap for Good program