Montreal

Leave a $5 deposit, get a reusable coffee cup

A Montreal non-profit organization is expanding operations — working to reduce coffee-shop waste across the province through its reusable cup consignment program.

By June, circulating coffee cup program will be available in nearly 200 shops in Quebec

Aurore Courtieux-Boinot co-founded La Tasse, a local non-profit that is making it easier for Montrealers to reduce their coffee shop waste. (Isaac Olson/CBC)

A Montreal non-profit organization is expanding operations — working to reduce coffee-shop waste across the province through its reusable cup consignment program.

La Tasse allows people to make a $5 deposit on a reusable cup when grabbing coffee on the go and, once they're finished, they can get that deposit back by returning the cup to any participating business.

"When you're done with it, you bring it back where ever you want within the network," co-founder Aurore Courtieux-Boinot told CBC Montreal's Daybreak Tuesday.

Customers don't even need to wash the cups first, she said. As long as it's not broken, they get their money back. The café washes it and puts it back into circulation.

Right now, the cups are being used in 12 different coffee shops around Montreal. By June, 200 shops around Quebec will be offering the service.

La Tasse launched last August and within the first week, calls were pouring in from coffee shops and other businesses from "all over Quebec, saying, 'Hey, that's exactly what I need,'" she said.

And it wasn't just independent shops looking to participate. Even franchise owners were asking for the cups, she said, and that's when the founders realized the program needed to be expanded well beyond Montreal's borders.

Courtieux-Boinot said many people want to reduce the amount of waste they produce every day, but it's not always easy to remember a portable, reusable mug when heading out the door.

The recyclable 355-millilitre cup is made of polypropylene.

It does not alter the taste like stainless steel, it does not conduct heat like bamboo and it is lighter and stronger than glass or ceramic, La Tasse says on its website where a list of participating businesses can be found.

A global initiative

Some local businesses were offering a similar, deposit-based program, but that deposit was as high as $20 to cover the cost of the cup, Courtieux-Boinot said, adding that doesn't work.

If it costs more than $5, the vast majority are going to use disposable cups instead, she said.

Similar programs exist in major cities around the world, allowing La Tasse founders to explore aspects of the service that work and don't work.

In Germany, she said, the program is nationwide, but the low-quality cups often end up in the recycling bins.

"We really wanted that this cup is not just an extra object," she said. "We really didn't want it to become another thing in the bin. It's a reusable, long-use cup."

With files from CBC Montreal's Daybreak

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