Guilt-Free Goodness: Enjoy your flat whites and lattes in new earth-friendly cups at Mulberry Grove. Photo / Mulberry Grove Store

End of Disposable Coffee Cup Ban

New compostable cups at Mulberry Grove offer alternative to controversial ban.

Just over six months after Great Barrier Island’s disposable coffee cup ban, Mulberry Grove, one of the island’s largest eateries, is bringing in disposable cups with an environmental twist.

The retailer is introducing fully home compostable coffee cups with an ‘aqueous lining’, marking a significant step towards a more sustainable solution.

The island’s voluntary ban, widely adopted by local businesses in October 2023 as part of Auckland Council’s zero waste by 2040 target, has been met with mixed reactions.

While some have embraced the move towards reusable “keep cups,” others voiced concerns about the practicality and effectiveness of the ban.

One retailer cited a significant drop in daily coffee sales and highlighted the logistical challenges of sterilizing reusable cups, requiring the use of a diesel generator. The retailer also noted the inefficiency of tourists purchasing keep cups and then driving around to return them before departure.

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Mulberry Grove’s introduction of compostable cups offers a potential solution. In a statement, the store announced, “No more plastic-lined cups! Mulberry Grove will now be serving takeaway hot drinks in home compostable cups. These have an aqueous lining (not PLA) and are earthworm-friendly.”

The store further explained that the cups are made from responsibly sourced paper, lined with a unique water-based barrier coating, and coloured in water-based inks. This coating is certified industrially compostable and has passed the home compostable test, including a test which certifies their suitability for earthworm composting.

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The move addresses the concerns raised about the previous use of so-called “compostable” cups, which often contained harmful PFAS (also known as “forever chemicals”), and could not be recycled in the usual paper and cardboard stream.

The new cups can be composted on-island, unlike previous “compostable” options that required high-temperature commercial composting to break down plastic lining.

The introduction of the new cups comes at a time when the island is experiencing reduced tourism due to an anchoring ban following the detection of exotic Caulerpa and the lingering impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mulberry Grove’s says its new eco-friendly cups are a step towards balancing environmental sustainability, with practical business needs.

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