This video has a text transcript

With customer and staff safety at heart, the COVID-19 pandemic saw many local businesses hesitating to use reusable coffee cups. While there was a temporary acceptance of this during such a challenging time, it did not take long for the community to start to innovate and try new things.

Look at some solutions you can adopt to keep your staff and customers safe, while moving away from single-use plastics.


Most cafes have now reopened, and customers and businesses are working together to return to their former confidence with reusable coffee cups. Check out how our local cafes are reducing single-use plastics while keeping their customers and staff safe.  Adopt these safe pouring methods then let your customers know you are accepting their reusables. Request your free countertop signage.

Contactless pour

Just like the contactless transaction, cafes have adopted the contactless pour. A customer retains their lid and places their cup on the serving bench where the barista pours directly into the cup. Just like that!

'Swap and go' coffee cups

Currently there are over 30 cafes on the Northern Beaches using a 'swap and go' system. In Sydney, there are hundreds. ''Swap and go' systems not only reduce the impact on the environment, but also puts your cafe on the map.  It creates an ongoing relationship between you and your customer while saving you money on single-use cups and lids. 

In a 'swap and go' system, the customer takes their empty swap cup to their café and their next purchased coffee is provided in a clean swap cup. No contact from the customer at all.

While Green Caffeen, Huskee Swap, Returnr and Claycups have different systems, they all work to increase consumer confidence and are set to increase as cafes are signing up. 

Find out more about the 'swap and go' coffee cup systems and view the 'swap and go' cafes on the Northern Beaches

Non-plastic single-use products

Council promotes reusable products and systems as the most viable for businesses and the environment. It is also understood that while reusable solutions are being developed and adopted, businesses need information on more sustainable single-use products.

Now is a great time to look at any single-use products in your business.  Talk to your suppliers about more sustainable non-plastic options. Before you do, arm yourself with knowledge found in our Sustainable Procurement Guide. 

Request Sustainable Procurement Guide and Sustainable Suppliers list

Sell or promote BYO cutlery and straws

It's a great time to remind your customers to bring their own cutlery and straws. Also consider selling your own reusable cutlery pouch. It’s a win-win situation for all. 

Request your free countertop signage

'Swap and go' food containers

Are you looking for alternatives to single-use plastic takeaway containers? Consider a container 'swap and go' system such as Returnr and Retub. Just like the coffee cup Swap and Go, the customer takes their empty swap container to their café or takeaway restaurant, and their next purchased dish is provided in a clean swap container. No contact from the customer at all.

You can also accept and encourage your customers to bring their own containers. Request they bring their clean container (which you would ensure is clean and sanitised). Promote your business and gain new customers by registering on Trashless Takeaway.

Request your free countertop signage

Reusable bags and boxes

Encourage your regulars to bring their own bag to pick up their takeaway. If you home deliver, drivers can load food into reusable bags and ask the customer to remove the items. Easy! If pizza deliveries can do it, so can you.

Food standards, health and safety

As has always been the case, food businesses need to ensure there is a safe system in place for accepting reusable items and that they comply with the Food Standards Code. The relevant considerations are that:

  • The reusable food packaging is clean and sanitised
  • The food handler washes their hands whenever they are likely to be a source of contamination of food

Depending on the usage of reusable cups and containers in the business, these requirements can easily be achieved.

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.” Ask your customers to bring and only accept clean cups and containers, consider the contactless pour method or a Swap & Go system with contactless drop off point.

See the NSW Food Authority Cleaning and Sanitising Fact Sheet for further information