In September/October 2017, members of the Berry Forum Sustainability Review Group conducted a survey of fifteen cafes in Berry that sell coffee in takeaway cups as a significant part of their business with two selected cafes not responding to the survey. Another ten establishments only serve coffee on their premises so they were excluded from the survey.

The purpose of the survey was to determine the use of sustainable practices in the businesses surveyed in terms of their use of biodegradable or recyclable takeaway paper cups; the sale of keep-cups (and any incentive to purchase them); discounts for refilling BYO cups like Keep-cups; use of wooden cutlery and use of paper straws.

The benefits of conducting this research are to inform the community about the sustainability practices of the selected cafés in Berry and to inform the café owners about how they compare with other businesses in the area of sustainability. The survey was confidential so the names of individual cafes are not mentioned.

Best practice in sustainability is supported by café owners who use supplies that are compostable, recyclable, reusable or biodegradable and who promote their use. Anything that cannot break down harmlessly uses up scarce landfill space or may escape into the environment and lead to damaging pollution that can affect human health and the welfare of ecosystems. .


Here are the main statistics from the Survey of the fifteen establishments surveyed:

Coffee cup usage

  • Takeaway coffee consumption ranged from 15 – 80% of total coffee sold
  • About 50% of the cafes reported that some people do drink coffee in takeaway cups on their premises and the consensus view was that this may be because people think takeaway cups retain heat longer
  • The majority of cafes (73%) served coffee in takeaway cups that are biodegradable or recyclable
  • The majority of cafes (67%) sell Keep-cups for BYO use and most of these cafes offer a free coffee with the purchase
  • Most cafes offer to fill BYO cups and allow a discount of between 20 – 50 cents discount (This is not well publicised so you need to ask)

Cutlery usage
The majority of cafes (60%) provided wooden/bamboo cutlery with their takeaway food instead of plastic cutlery 

Straw usage
The majority of cafes (80%) used plastic instead of paper straws. The reasons mentioned by café owners included the extra cost of paper straws and concern about their usability

Bottle usage
All cafes sold bottled drinks in glass and/or plastic bottles. (note that the new “Return and Earn” NSW Government container deposit scheme comes into operation on 1 December 2017, but the facilities for the return of beverage containers in Berry has yet to be confirmed. Go to for the latest information

Other Sustainability activities
Café owners were invited to mention other sustainability activities they undertake in their businesses.

  • Use coffee grounds to fertilise the garden
  • Give food scraps to farm animals
  • Take cardboard to Shoalhaven Recycling at Bomaderry
  • Take soft plastics to Redcycle collection points at Coles and Woolies in Nowra
  • Use sugar cane takeaway containers
  • Offer Boomerang Bags
  • Use Biocups for growing seedlings

The results overall were positive with the majority of surveyed cafe owners taking their responsibilities to undertake sustainable business practices very seriously. There is however room for improvement among a minority of café owners.

The only negative result was the common use of plastic straws instead of paper. This needs attention in the future as plastic straws contribute to environmental pollution.

If you have any queries, you can contact David Brawn of the Berry Forum Committee via or on 0419 295 400.

We thank the café owners for participating in this Survey when they are busy running their businesses. Thanks should also go to the members of the Berry Forum Sustainability group who spent time interviewing people.

Berry Forum Sustainability Review Group
November 2017