mugshare Helps You Say Goodbye to Cup Fees and Waste

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mugshare, a relatively new program in Vancouver, promotes the use of reusable coffee cups. Forget your own reusable cup? They’ve got you covered at over a dozen locations around the city.

mugshare Helps You Say Goodbye to Cup Fees and Waste
Photo courtesy of mugshare

mugshare Helps You Say Goodbye to Cup Fees and Waste

“As plastic pollution continues to grow, cutting back on single-use food items, like polycoated coffee cups, and advancing circular solutions is more critical than ever,” says Melanie Chanona, director and co-founder of mugshare. “Before the COVID-19 pandemic, we were making progress, but lack of clarity around health and safety concerns stalled the momentum, and with added waste from disposable masks and gloves, the plastic crisis has only worsened.”

Did you know?

  • Vancouverites throw out up to 2.6 million single-use cups every week, costing the city $2.5 million annually to collect.
  • Single-use cups make up 22% of all city litter, ending up in the streets, in the landfill, and in our oceans. 
  • Over 80% of Vancouverites think reducing single-use items is important, and that quick-serve restaurants or cafes should provide reusable options.

mugshare is a social impact program that provides a safe, reusable alternative to single-use cups through a convenient deposit-return system. The born-in-Vancouver business was created by a group of UBC students in 2016 in an effort to shift the norm on single-use waste, without putting the burden of responsibility on individuals. During the pandemic, they joined forces with CUPPY, another mug-sharing pioneer who shared the same values as mugshare, to collaboratively grow the reusable movement in British Columbia.

“We’re building an incredible community of partners and mugsharers in Vancouver and beyond,” says Chanona. “Together, we’re taking a systems change approach to decrease reliance on single-use cups and help address the harm created by linear ‘make-take-waste’ models. We believe reducing barriers to participation is key to making this shift, so we prioritized simplicity and ease of use when designing the program.”

There are three easy steps to become a mugsharer:

  1. Order a drink at any mugshare partner location and ask for a mugshare mug. Pay a $5 refundable deposit.
  2. Enjoy your drink there, or take it to go.
  3. Whenever convenient, return your mug at any mugshare location and be reimbursed for your $5 deposit.

mugshare’s intent is to keep the program as accessible as possible — no app is required to become a mugsharer, so a smartphone is not a prerequisite. mugshare partners and users will also avoid the new $0.25 fee to be charged for all single-use disposable cups in Vancouver that began January 1, 2022, and by joining now, they’ll establish a reusable mug habit before it’s enforced. Businesses who partner with mugshare will also be exempt from the extra administrative work of reporting the number of single-use cups distributed to their customers while filing their 2023 business license renewal with the City of Vancouver.

mugsharers can feel confident knowing their health and safety is a top priority: the reusable mugs are sanitized after every use, to the same standards as dine-in dishware. mugshare provides training to business partners on sanitization standards as well as guidance from public health officials that supports the use of reusable containers.

The quickly-growing list of mugshare partners already includes coffee luminaries like Giovane CaffèDi Beppe, and Caffè Super Veloce in downtown Vancouver, select JJ Bean locations, DALINA in Chinatown and Fairview, Chickpea on Main Street, Continental Coffee House on Main Street and Commercial Drive, Boulevard and Doughgirls on UBC campus, and even Globe Cafe and Tapas Bar at Big White Ski Resort near Kelowna. 

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