How to Bru the change with the Cup Exchange

Bru Coffee might have the best coffee in North Bondi, but we’re talking about more than just the taste! In our eyes this coffee joint has hit the spot with the introduction of their mug library, which started in August 2018. 

What was the inspiration for the mug library and how does it work?

Sondra Beram from Bru Coffee explains, “I just had to do something. Of course, I’m doing it for the turtles and all the marine life out there. I just had to start somewhere and when I saw the idea for a mug library on The Cup Exchange, I thought, that’s brilliant!”

Sondra Beram from Bru Coffee

Sondra Beram from Bru Coffee

Sondra started the Cup Exchange (a.k.a.mug library) in August with just 3 cups from home, one of them being a recent purchase on a special holiday for her 50thbirthday to Alice Springs. Now they have over 40 mugs, that were donated by locals or purchased from Vinnies, sitting in a basket at the front.

The way it works… if a customer forgets to bring their own coffee cup, they can take a mug from the Cup Exchange and bring it back another time. “Some people bring it back the same day, others the next day, and some mugs have never returned – including my Alice Springs mug – but that’s how it goes,” says Sondra. 

Small actions, BIG difference

 One billion takeaway coffee cups are ending up in landfill every year, and people are starting to realise that we need a change. It is our responsibility to do our part to reduce the waste we create, and it is in these actions – a café committing to a Mug library, a consumer opting in for BYO or using a mug provided- that we do every day which can really make a huge difference. Who doesn’t feel good about that? 

The great thing about this solution is that it’s overcoming two barriers to changing habits. The first barrier is that people need to remember to bring their own cup if they want to avoid creating waste. Yet this can be a challenge when many people lead busy lives. The mug library helps bridge that barrier for those that want to get started on this journey towards zero waste. 

The second barrier Bru Coffee have overcome is the financial cost for the business. We need to make sure that sustainable solutions consider the triple bottom line. And thankfully, the mug library is a great way to reduce costs. 

Show me the money: How you save money with a mug library

 Since Bru coffee implemented the mug library, about 30% of their coffee orders are poured into these mugs. If all the coffees were served in their Biopak compostable cups, it would cost $32 a day for the cups. However, when their customers use the mug library it saves them $10 a day. In just 3 months, they’ve saved $300 on cups! During that time, about $60 was spent on cups from Vinnies and a similar in-kind value received from the community with their cup donations. 

Another way to look at this solution is to consider the upgrade to compostable cups. Traditional plastic lined cups would cost $22 a day. With the money that Bru Coffee saves with their mug library, they can afford to use the compostable cups. 

It really is a win – win – win situation. “We’re helping our blue planet, we’re saving money and we’re inspiring the community to be part of the solution with us.” 


And the journey continues…

There are always new ideas popping up and new ways to implement solutions for your business. Sondra has recently evolved the Mug library idea and started a Bowl library for takeaway food orders. And they’re also utilising an industrial compost facility through Biopak for their commercial waste. 

The key to finding out about these ideas and how they work is to connect with your local business community. Sondra often chats to other business owners, like her friends at Gertrude and Alice that stock her delicious chai tea. If you’re a local business owner, pop into Bru Coffee and check out their solutions- their enthusiasm is contagious!

Bru Coffee in North Bondi are sustainability leaders with their Cup Exchange

Bru Coffee in North Bondi are sustainability leaders with their Cup Exchange