July 1, 2021
Blog/ Better Cities Series: KeepCup Interview
Thanks so much for talking with us today. First off, could you tell us a bit about the KeepCup story and what inspired you to start it?
And I remember seeing them the first time so clearly, I think it was at the London Coffee Festival, though I’m not sure which year. There’s something so recognisable about the design and KeepCups have become quite emblematic of the ethical consumer and circular economy movements. How would you say these have shaped KeepCup and how has KeepCup been shaped by these movements?
You’ve not only introduced a new category, but you’ve had to influence behaviour change amongst your consumers to encourage them to switch to reusable cups, can you identify a tipping point and what have been the key moments for KeepCup?
Building on that, I was reading on your site that you were one of the first Australian companies to become a B Corp- why did you make the decision to get on board and what sorts of changes has it led to for KeepCup and the way you operate?
Was it a tough accreditation to go through?
And leverage them you have! Looking at your company origins, we read research from Bain & Company which shows that those organisations most successful at maintaining profitable growth over the long term were disproportionately founder-led. In other words, how founders built their companies on the inside, from the start, influenced their companies’ success on the outside, for a long time. Do you think KeepCup’s success is down to your sharp sense of purpose?
On that, I’d love to know, what’s your proudest achievement so far?
What practical steps would you advise businesses and brands to take if they’re keen to approach things in a more circular way?
They think about the disposal?
And could you share any examples of how KeepCup approaches things in a circular way?
There’s so much to consider when you’re looking at the way materials and goods move around. Logistics and home deliveries have been in the spotlight a little more than usual this past year, and I was really interested to see that you explicitly refer to your approach on your website, you say:
We ask customers to be conscious of the environmental costs of shipping goods and consider this impact as we do, in our purchasing decisions. We encourage you to shop locally and support your local cafés.
We’ve really noticed that it’s become commonplace for retailers and brands to feel like they must make delivery almost an invisible part of the brand experience. What’s been the reaction to your approach and why is it important to you to set that out so clearly?
That’s interesting, thinking about it in a systemic way. Whether we’re talking about the packaging or the transport that’s attached to a product; how can we change thinking. It’s a great ambition that you have there on charging for freight.
Our cities are changing rapidly as a result of many of these factors we’re talking about, and deliveries and logistics are an important part of the shift. Can you tell us a bit about your approach to sustainability and logistics, how, for example, do you work with partners to achieve better outcomes?
It’s been such a tricky year for so many industries. During the pandemic we’ve seen a necessary shift in human behaviour. Less people are going to coffee shops, there is an emphasis on cleanliness and no physical contact and that has led to an increase in the throwaway culture – masks, coffee cups. How has the pandemic affected KeepCup? And how is the business adapting?
And thinking about this next stage and things start to improve after the pandemic, how do you see KeepCup’s role unfolding as a circular economy pioneer and advocate as we look towards the future?
It’s been a huge change hasn’t it. I feel quite hopeful about those changes, but it’s interesting how that’s going to impact on cities.
Thank you Abigail and Chris for such a heartfelt, honest perspective on KeepCup and your place in the circular economy movement and the future of cities and sustainable business.
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