Above: Motu Aotea is ditching single-use takeaway coffee cups. Photo / Greta Recup / Creative Commons

Ban on Single-Use Cups on Aotea, Great Barrier Island in Eco-Friendly Shift

Aotea, Great Barrier Island is setting a remarkable environmental precedent as it endeavors to become the first location in Aotearoa New Zealand to eradicate single-use takeaway cups. 

Above: Motu Aotea is ditching single-use takeaway coffee cups. Photo / Greta Recup / Creative Commons

Aotea, Great Barrier Island is setting a remarkable environmental precedent as it endeavors to become the first location in Aotearoa New Zealand to eradicate single-use takeaway cups. 

Starting from October 1, coffee shops across the island are preparing to ditch these cups, offering more sustainable alternatives.

Jo O’Reilly, the director of Anamata, Aotea’s resource recovery center and the driving force behind this initiative, explains the unique position of the island in achieving this goal. 

“We’re lucky on Aotea because we’re a small, island location so something like this is totally doable,”

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 O’Reilly says. She adds, “I’ve been so impressed by how enthusiastic people are, from our retailers to our coffee drinkers.”

O’Reilly also highlights the environmental motivation behind this move: 

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Pa Beach Cafe, 82 Blackwell Drive, Tryphena, Great Barrier Island (Aotea)

“We live in an ecological paradise that we all want to protect.” 

She points out the often-overlooked fact that all landfill waste from the island has to be shipped back to the mainland, incurring significant environmental and financial costs. 

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Pa Beach Cafe, 82 Blackwell Drive, Tryphena, Great Barrier Island (Aotea)

“We’re doing all we can to reduce those volumes,” she asserts.

The initiative is not just about cutting down waste but is a crucial element in the island’s larger ambition for zero waste to landfill by 2040, a goal backed by the Aotea / Great Barrier Local Board. 

Izzy Fordham, Chair of the Local Board, expresses her support: 

“It’s been great to see the community truly embrace the initiative. The board has offered its continued support for the project, which aligns with our vision of zero waste for the island.”

With the phase-out of single-use cups, coffee aficionados on the island will have several options: bringing their own keep cups; using a mug from a café’s mug library, where available; or purchasing a reusable $10 double-walled, stainless steel cup from an island-wide “borrow” scheme. 

This cup can be kept or returned to any participating outlet for a refund.

O’Reilly encourages a shift in cafe culture, suggesting customers “sit down to drink their coffee, at a pace more suited to island life.” 

She describes the cup scheme as “a small step for mankind but a big step in terms of what it says about our island and what’s important to us.”

Her advice to visitors this summer is straightforward: “Pack your keep cup!”

The initiative is also receiving support from the New Zealand Packaging Forum, marking a significant step towards sustainable living on the island.

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