Monash Borrow Cup: Reducing waste and creating conversation

Source: Jasmine Shepard


The Monash Borrow Cup Program is reducing students’ consumption of single-use coffee cups and encouraging other sustainable habits, says Sue Powell, sustainability coordinator at the Monash Institute of Sustainability.

“The borrow cup allows students and staff to be sustainable on campus, even when they forget their keep cup at home,” she said. 

As part of the the borrow cup program, 1500 keep cups have been placed in cafes around Monash for free student use. Once returned, they are washed and reused.

Leader in sustainability development and senior UN adviser Professor Jeffery Sachs  supports the borrow cup. Picture: @monashborrowcup

“The borrow cup is made from recyclable plastics, and lasts two to three years. Yes, reusable coffee cups do require more resources to make than single use plastic, however the Borrow Cup becomes a sustainable option after 15 uses,” Ms Powell said.

“We are seeing around 200 borrow cups being used daily, and even with the commercial dishwashing process involved in this calculation, the program is still a better way to go.”

Program co-founder Simone Pianko said the borrow cup was big step in changing attitudes toward sustainability.

“For me, the reason I think these models really work (in promoting sustainability), is the effect it has on people from an educational level.”

Ms Pianko said staff and student feedback had been very supportive and positive.

“It gets people thinking, ‘oh I’m doing this, what other choices can I make in my life to be more sustainable’.”

Head barista at Nesso, Jess McNeily, with a Monash borrow cup Picture: @monashborrowcup

Jess McNeily, head barista at a café involved in the Borrow Cup scheme, Nesso, reinforced the success of the program.

“Most people using the cups own a keep cup at home, and opt for the borrow cup if they have forgotten theirs, or have forgotten to wash it.”

Ms McNeily urged students to move toward other sustainable options when buying food on campus.

“I think students can reduce waste on campus through simple things, just like plastic bags are a big one.

“All of our cutlery and plastics are biodegradable, which I think more students could start using more as well to reduce the use of other single-use plastics,” Ms McNeily said.

The Monash Borrow Cup bins have been implemented all over campus. Picture: Jasmine Shepard


Ms Powell said the use of single use plastics was one of the biggest waste issues on campus.

“In campus centre during the semester, the waste bins are emptied at least eight times a day.

“Often, non-recyclable single-use plastics also are contaminating recycling,” she said.

Ms Powell said sustainability needed to “push the boundaries” at Monash.

“We need to move away from single-use plastics in general to become a more sustainable university.”