The eco-friendly takeaway cup
Compostable takeaway cups have become standard for customers of an Oxford-based coffee business, thanks to a bespoke procurement solution delivered by Banner.
The Missing Bean, which roasts speciality coffees for its four cafes in the city, as well as other restaurants, cafes and offices, started working with Banner four years ago.
Seeking compostable solutions
Long before Blue Planet II put the issue of single use plastic firmly in everyone’s minds, the company was looking for eco-friendly takeaway cups to reduce its use of non-biodegradable plastic.
As well as provide their stationery, technology and other workplace products, Banner delivered specialised print support to the Missing Bean, arranging for their logo to be printed onto their takeaway cups.
The big challenge, however, was to find compostable alternatives to these cups. Banner needed to find a way to ensure every part of the cup, including the inner layer and lid, was compostable, while still doing the job of holding a hot drink. The new cups also needed to prove an affordable alternative to the old ones.
The Missing Bean’s managing director Ori Halup said: “We’ve always sold re-useable takeaway cups but finding compostable cups proved more of a challenge. Many of our customers are environmentally aware and keen to buy from businesses that offer ethical, sustainable solutions, so we were determined to find the answer.”
The sustainability journey
“We’ve got four cafes, including pop-up shops at the Pitt Rivers Museum and the English Faculty at the University. Around three years ago, we decided it would be great to source and roast our own coffee and after working with buyers in Europe for a time, we started talking to a friend who worked with an NGO in Peru. He took us to a beautiful place there and introduced us directly to a coffee farmer.
“That started us on our sustainability journey, and we’re now also working with farmers in Thailand and looking at projects in Uganda and the Congo. It’s very important to us to pay a fair price directly to the farmer and really invest in long term relationships with a small selection of coffee farms. This way they have some certainty about future crop cycles and get a much better price than they would by selling through large scale organisations.
“We try to recycle whatever we can. We give our coffee compost to local farmers and allotment holders and we don’t purchase anything in plastic. Cups however are a really big thing, considering the volume that we get through. We buy locally and get our fresh produce from a greengrocer in Oxford, who introduced us to Banner.”
Finding a compostable cup
John Bachrach, Regional Sales Manager at Banner explained: “Banner’s buying power and commercial acumen helped meet the wish of the Missing Bean to make their new compostable takeaway coffee cups both sustainable and affordable.
“Our category experts were able to use their extensive networks and existing supply relationships to source a cup and lid that would be fully compostable and hold hot drinks for customers just as well as the previous ones. We then made it cost-effective by agreeing to order the cups in bulk and keep them as bespoke stock at our warehouse, with an ability to fulfil next day delivery. We hold up to three months of stock at any one time and run rate it, so we can let the Missing Bean know when they’re likely to run out.
“This is a great example of a small independent business achieving success with a fantastic product, while retaining its ethics and values. Ori and the team are trying to make a living in a very competitive market, but are also doing the right thing and making a difference. The Missing Bean are not seeking to take over the world, but they are doing everything they can to protect it. Their refreshing approach was a real driver for Banner to use its resources to help make their vision happen.”
Working with Banner
Ori said: “Quality and service are really important to us and we’ve found Banner strong on both. They make very little work for our managers because they deliver to any of our outlets or the places we supply under one account, unlike many other suppliers. They provide next day delivery, are very easy to deal with, and flexible on order quantities. Our managers can call, place an order and it will be there the next day, without any issues. We know their delivery driver as it’s been the same guy for the last three or four years. It’s all very straightforward.
“When there is a rare issue, they sort it out straight away. They call us if there are any new offers or lines they think are right for us, and if we need something new, rather than having to spend hours researching it ourselves, Banner gives us best advice, which helps us quickly identify the product that’s right for us.”
“Our aim is to offer other places our speciality coffees. Lots of offices are looking to improve their coffee offering and it’s a nice incentive for employees. We have the capacity to expand and we’re seeking to get even more coffee beans directly, and help more farmers get a fair price. Great partnerships, not only with our coffee farmers, but with companies like Banner, are helping the Missing Bean’s future to look very bright.”