We were lucky enough to catch 5 minutes with our friends over at KeepCup and we got the chance to ask them some questions about what drives them and where they're hoping to go in the future. Here's what they said!
Who founded KeepCup and why?
KeepCup was founded in 2009, by Café owners Abigail and Jamie Forsyth. They witnessed first-hand the proliferation of throw away cup culture from their position behind the café counter and decided they wanted to do something about it.
Abigail and Jamie started KeepCup, a business for better, leading the charge to ensure the world no longer needs, wants or uses single-use cups.
How much waste can you really save by using a KeepCup?
Re-use plays a major role in reducing waste, but perhaps more importantly the resulting behaviour and habitual change can have a huge knock on effect in how consumers consider the impact of their actions across their everyday lives.
- Every minute around the world, over one million disposable cups are used and discarded.
- KeepCup users divert more than 8 billion disposable cups from landfill each year.
- After 24 uses, KeepCups have lower carbon emissions than single-use cups*.
- After 10 uses, a KeepCup has lower carbon emissions than compostable cups.*
- KeepCups have 4% lower carbon footprint than reusable bamboo cups.*
* Analysis of carbon emissions. Data based on 12oz KeepCup analysed in peer reviewed LCA. Bengtsson, J. 2018, Reusable Coffee Cups Life Cycle Assessment and Benchmark, Edge Environment.
What makes KeepCup different from other reusable cups on the market?
KeepCup isn’t just a product. It’s a movement, built on a strong sense of shared purpose. We carefully consider materials, purpose and end of life when creating our products and KeepCup is the only reusable cup to complete and publish full results of a peer reviewed Lifecycle Analysis (LCA).
Ultimately, we are a campaign supported by a product and we believe this is what sets us apart as a business. We are a living wage employer, we have been a B-Corp since 2014 and we are a member of 1% for the Planet meaning we commit 1% of global revenue to environmental causes.
Gender equality is also close to our heart. Our Owner and Managing Director is a woman. 71% of our leadership team are women as are 54% of all our employees.
What are KeepCups made of and how are they manufactured?
Design and manufacturing of our cups is done with the aim of creating a circular economy which all of our products can eventually be a part of; KeepCups can be used, reused and recycled at the end of their long life.
Creating a circular economy means that wherever possible we manufacture locally, all of our UK products are assembled in our London hub, our packaging is manufactured in the UK along with the majority of our plastic components.
We have considered alternative materials like bamboo and PLA, but have not pursued these materials due to the materials that bond them, their lifespan and their end of life options. For example, bamboo is an excellent fast growing fibre, but when used for waterproof, food safe vessels, it is most commonly bonded with melamine. The bonding agent is 20-60% of the end product. The melamine content means that these materials cannot be composted or recycled as many other coffee cup manufacturers suggest.
Similarly many of the alternative fibre products, like “coffee ground” cups are bonded with polypropylene.
We continue to use plastics as they are easy to use and clean, arguably more food safe than other materials, and recyclable at end of life.
What is KeepCup doing to tackle the throwaway culture, particularly in the context of coffee shops?
We believe in the power of cultural influence, a belief that the everyday choices we make shape the future. We work closely with cafes and roasters to drive implementation initiatives, sharing behaviour change strategies. We also work with many other businesses, workplaces and universities in a similar way, helping them breakdown the barriers to reuse and design strategies that are fit for purpose and can evolve overtime.
Every time someone takes a KeepCup into their local café, shop, school or work place they are inspiring the shift towards reuse and a more sustainable culture. These are the everyday changemakers, custodians of a purpose to leave the world better. We believe collective individual action is a powerful catalyst for change.