A network of cafés in Olomouc has started a joint project – “Hire a Cup” (Půjčte si kelímek) – aimed at replacing one-time non-recyclable take-away cups with a more sustainable solution: for a small refundable fee you can borrow a to-go cup.
According to data obtained by Olomouc.cz, 6,000-8,000 cups of coffee are used every month in the Czech Republic’s sixth largest city. Current technologies do not allow them to be recycled, so the vast majority end up in a landfill or incinerator.
The inspiration for the project came from Germany, where the same system has been operating for a long time.
“We have established cooperation with local representatives of the project CupForCup, who gave us the know-how and the actual reusable cups to test,” project co-founder Jan Havranek told Lidovky.cz last week.
Cups are currently available at Café La Fée, Kafé Kodó, and Naše Café but according to Havranek, he has been approached by almost half of the cafés in Olomouc as well as business owners in Prague, Brno, and Ostrava.
The group would like to add more cafes to its ecologically-minded collective of businesses and hopes that by the end of the year the project can expand beyond Olomouc.
The principle of the Hire a Cup project is simple: customers can choose whether to take their coffee in a disposable or returnable cup at the cafes – if you opt for a returnable cup, you pay a 50 CZK deposit. Any business involved in the project will accept the return and hand back your deposit.
Havranek says that 90 percent of customers opt for the returnable cup.
Chances are the project would be welcome in other types of eateries and cities, including the beer gardens of the Czech capital where an activist was recently refused (but eventually received) service after requesting that her beer be poured into a recyclable cup at Letná beer garden.
Letna beer garden uses hundreds of disposable plastic cups every day. When I showed up with my own glass, they refused to sell me beer in any other container than disposable plastic, citing Prague 7 regulations, private property rules and hygiene issues #dostbyloplastu #neplastuj
— Prague Zero Waste (@praguezerowaste) August 3, 2018
A number of local music festivals have also started offering returnable cups to cut down on waste.