Early on in KeepCup’s life, one designer dismissed the product as the “stupidest idea I’ve ever seen.” Then, the first production had a fatal flaw; they were leak prone and too hot to hold.
Thankfully, Abagail Forsyth and her brother persisted and they how now have one of the best reusables on the market. KeepCup is sold in over 30 countries and has diverted billions of disposable cups from the landfill.
I was lucky enough to have current CEO and co-founder Abagail answer my most burning (and Star Wars related) questions. Without further ado, here is the interview.
Abagail Forsyth showing off the new Star Wars Collab
If you could only have one, would you own an R2-D2 KeepCup or a BB-8 KeepCup? Why?
R2-D2, without a doubt! He’s got courage and personality.
How has KeepCup changed since its inception almost ten years ago?
In some ways we’ve changed a lot, and in other ways not at all. We’ve grown, we have warehouses in London and in LA, and we have expanded our range to cover the different ways people enjoy coffee around the world.
However, our HQ is still in Fitzroy, Melbourne, and most importantly, our values and commitment to sustainability remain the same today as when we first started out. We continue to drive a positive campaign that encourages people to reuse and we make products that enable people to make effective, sustainable changes in their day-to-day lives.
Why are your headquarters in Fitzroy, Melbourne?
Fitzroy is where I live with my family, so it made sense for me to start the business in my own community. But Fitzroy is an area of Melbourne which values local produce and manufacture and that has a thriving coffee scene, so it’s been a great place for us to put down roots as a business.
Other than R2-D2, what is your favorite cup? Why?
I’m a flat white drinker, so I’d have to say my 8oz KeepCup Original is my favorite – it’s been with me for years now. The best reusable is the one you use.
If someone visits Melbourne, what are your top three recommended places to have coffee?
There are so many incredible coffee shops in Melbourne, but I’d have to say:
It is estimated that 500 billion disposable cups are discarded to landfill every year.
Why did KeepCup choose to become B-Corp Certified? How has it help?
We chose to become B-Corp certified because it provides an independent assessment of our commitment to sustainability and to the communities in which we operate.
It also helps consumers make better choices – we don’t just talk the talk; our values run through everything we do and we are who we say we are.
What makes a KeepCup different from other reusable mugs?
KeepCup is the world’s first barista standard reusable cup; they replicate the internal volumes of disposable cups, have press-on lids and fit under the group heads of a coffee machine.
Having owned cafes in the past, I knew that if we wanted to enable people to reuse, we had to design a product that could be incorporated into a busy service environment, was fit for purpose, and looked good.
What challenges are currently faced by KeepCup in order to help grow the reuse movement?
Convenience is a powerful foe, and while we’re looking to improve one area where the convenience culture impacts our planet adversely, none of us leads a blameless life. We’re all on a journey to make better choices, and at KeepCup our purpose is to provide a solution that’s fit for purpose and enables people to choose to reuse.
He's definitely tweeting about the #reuse movement
What coffee are you buying at KeepCup’s Melbourne HQ? Why?
We like to mix it up, so we use the coffee subscription service 3000 Thieves which means we get to try out the best of Melbourne’s coffee roasters.
Does a good disposable cup exist?
No. At the moment, most disposable cups are made of a thin plastic layer coated in paper – in theory they can be recycled but it’s actually difficult to separate the materials so they usually end up in a landfill. But given the fact that we produce 500 billion disposable cups worldwide each year, even if we did recycle them it wouldn’t be enough.
The three Rs of sustainability are reduce, reuse, and recycle, but recycling should be a last resort. Making any product requires energy and resources for manufacture and transportation, and in the end, most products consist of only 5% of the raw materials and resources used to make them. Reusing an item like a KeepCup ensures that the energy and resources used in manufacture are offset by the amount of energy and resources saved by their use.
What element or event, in your opinion, has helped dramatically grow the reuse movement in Australia and across the globe?
Our work in Australia has been greatly aided by independent coffee industry. In Australia, about 80% of the coffee shops we work with are independent. They know about the risk that climate change presents to growers and are supportive of encouraging sustainable behaviors at every stage of the process. Their support has helped give people permission to reuse and normalized reuse behavior.
Thank you so much for doing this. Where can people learn more?
No problem! You can find out more about KeepCup and check out our full range at http://us.keepcup.com/
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