Again Again is New Zealand’s first reusable cups-as-a-service system offering a way for coffee lovers to ditch single-use takeaway cups without any hassle.
Words Lara Wyatt. Photography © Again Again Limited
You know those times when you’re keen for a coffee, but you left your coffee cup at home or on your desk at work? Again Again is the solution that’ll stop you from getting your caffeine fix in a single-use coffee cup.
It’s a takeaway coffee cup service where the customer pays a fully refundable $3 deposit to check out their first cup when they order a coffee from a cafe that offers Again Again. This $3 is either refunded when they bring the cup back, or they can switch out the dirty cup for their next clean one. You can return the cup to any cafe that’s part of the Again Again network. Super convenient!
The founders of Again Again, Melissa Firth and Nada Piatek, say the mission is to make reuse as normal as convenience when it comes to takeaway coffees and making it something that can be easily adopted by a wide audience.
The system was trialled in Wellington within 14 cafes, and in just six weeks it had diverted 4400 cups from landfill. Now there are 58 cafes in Wellington on board and altogether they estimate they’re stopping more than 30,000 cups heading to landfill every month! The goal for Again Again now is to get the system into 90 cafes in Wellington by August, and the team feel highly optimistic they’ll get more than this involved.
For the Auckland launch, there are 33 locations on board. With the launch cohort of cafes in Auckland, Again Again expect that the number of coffee cups diverted from landfill will become 50,000 cups per month across the entire network.
Wellington Airport is jumping on board shortly, with four cafes there, and the network continues to grow all the time. Now Again Again is starting to receive inquiries from larger corporate operators as well.
“We are also developing an engagement strategy to work with councils and community leaders in the regions to support local cafes to come on to the scheme. Christchurch, Rotorua and Queenstown are likely to come next but the goal is to be nationwide,” Firth explains.
The values that drive the Again Again team are kaitiakitanga, whanaungatanga and accountability. Kaitiakitanga is a core value as both founders have had a strong element of that in their previous work (Piatek at Sustainability Trust and Firth at Te Papa).
Whanaungatanga, the idea of community responsibility, is that while Again Again can provide the system, it will still take the action and behaviour of all of us in the community to make it work.
“Again Again, cafes, consumers, councils. We must all take joint responsibility to change how we do things if we have a hope of saving the planet from unsustainable levels of waste generation,” Firth says.
Accountability is another core value because Firth says they deeply believe that businesses should be accountable for reducing the waste they produce when providing products and services to customers.
“We must all make a change. And to date, the burden of guilt has been left at consumers’ door without the systems to make impactful changes at scale.”
What are the cups made of?
The cups are 304 stainless steel, which is the highest-grade stainless steel, rated for food preparation. It doesn’t taint the taste of food or drinks prepared in it. The single-walled cups are available in 230ml (regular) and 350ml (large).
At end of Again Again use, the cups are sent back to Again Again HQ and directed to scrap metal operators in Wellington. The metal is recast with no loss of quality. As a resource, steel is totally circular.
The cups come with a corrugated cardboard heat sleeve that has the option to be brandable.
“We acknowledge the sleeve is a single-use item. However, lacking a plastic lining, it is either fully recyclable or compostable in-home compost systems. They are also typically being reused at least two or three times,” Firth says.
The lid is silicone, which, while it doesn’t have a scalable recycling stream at the moment, is a reusable item. Silicone’s flexibility means they form an excellent seal, enabling Again Again to keep the steel cups in circulation as long as possible, even if the cup is dinged or dented.
Again Again aims to be nationwide within 18 months, and starting to grow offshore in a similar timeframe.
“We believe that people can save the planet from waste without compromising their convenience. It just takes small adjustments to daily routines, and it takes businesses to be more serious about applying circular economy thinking to the way they deliver products and services to customers. We’re happy to be lighting the way.”
Cafes that’d like to join the system or want to find out more can do so at againagain.co/cafe-info