In the eternal coffee-versus-tea battle, the former seems to be emerging as the winner. The demand for coffee has been growing steadily in the past few years, also thanks to its huge popularity among Millennials. As a consequence, cafés are multiplying in cities around the globe. Although this development is great news for current and prospective café and bar owners, there are also some downsides. For starters, the amount of waste created by coffee shops is growing.
Take the disposable cups used to drink coffee on the go. Starbucks alone goes through4 billion paper cups annually! That’s a lot of waste – and a lot of money going into containers that are used just once. To make matters worse, even though they are called “paper cups”, these disposable cups are usually not made entirely of paper. “Paper” cups are usually coated with a plastic resin called polyethylene, which makes the cups resistant to hot drinks – and unfortunately, harder to recycle at the very same time. Some of the big coffee chains have moved on to cups that are technically recyclable. All good, then? Not really. These cups require highly specialized recycling facilities, which are rare. As a result, only 1% of the cups end up being recycled.
Cutting waste and growing loyalty
As consumers become increasingly aware of the negative consequences connected with waste, smart coffee house managers are finding ways to reduce the amount of garbage they produce – and as a consequence, cut costs, improve their image and attract more customers at the same time. Here are some ideas of how you can cut waste and give customer more reasons to visit by using your loyalty program:
Offer customers a discount on a reusable cup when they register to your loyalty app. There are lots of affordable and convenient reusable cups out there – why not sell them in your café? Choose some funky, attractive designs to increase sales (think about the Starbucks city mugs: they have become a collectible, and there are people who make a trip to different locations of the coffee chain just to buy a new design).
One thing is providing customers with reusable cups – another thing is getting them to actually use them. Incentivize loyal customersto take their cups along, for instance by giving loyal coffee-lovers a discount on each cup of coffee, or a free drink for every 5th time they purchase a coffee in your cafés using a reusable cup.
Don’t forget to send loyal coffee-drinkers who use your reusable cup coupons and offers. This way they will feel rewarded for reducing waste, and may end up tasting some of your products they wouldn’t normally purchase.
Finally, you could cut the use of disposable cups by making the to-go drinks more expensive than the drink-in ones, at least for loyal patrons. Worried about the cost of washing up all those cups? Just think about how many paper cups your staff is already removing daily from your café’s tables - as many people buy the drink to take away to save a few pennies, and then drink it in anyway.
You can easily help solve the problem of coffee cup waste. Reducing waste won’t only make you more popular with environmentally-conscious customers, increasing your loyal clientele; it can also help reduce your waste hauling and waste disposal costs, sending money in your pocket two ways.