Adios, single use: The KeepCup revolution
We catch up with Abigail Forsyth, the co-founder of KeepCup, and talk carbon neutrality, circular economy, how to safely use your KeepCup during COVID-19, and the importance of salt and vinegar chips and a beer.

Tell us how it all began. What inspired you to start KeepCup and when?

KeepCup started in a Melbourne cafe with a simple idea: keep it and use it again. I co-founded KeepCup with my brother, Jamie, back in 2009. At the time, we were running cafes in Melbourne and had become increasingly concerned about the volume of packaging being consumed, particularly disposable, non-recyclable cups.

From there KeepCup was born, the world’s first barista-standard reusable cup for people to enjoy better coffee on-the-go. Today, KeepCup has grown to define a product category. We advocate for positive change and continue our mission for a world that no longer needs, wants or uses single-use cups.

Today, KeepCups are used in more than 65 countries around the world. When you reflect on that, how do you feel?

To this day, I still get a kick out of seeing a customer in a cafe or on the street going about their day carrying a KeepCup. To think that a simple idea, all those years ago, has helped kick-start the reuse revolution is something I am really proud of. That and the fact that KeepCup users divert more than eight billion disposable cups from landfill each year!

What are some of the ways KeepCup gives back to the planet?

In 2014, KeepCup  became one of Australia’s founding  B Corporations. We are committed to an economy that is purpose-driven, focussing on making a positive difference to stakeholders, current and future generations and the natural world. We signed a Declaration of Interdependence recognising this, calling out that corporate practices and policies have real-world impact and can (and should) be used for good. For KeepCup, we want more impact when it comes to behaviour change and advocacy and less when it comes to the pollution and the waste created when doing business.

B Corps measure and help businesses improve performance beyond profit, with a focus on transparency, environmental impact, community and employee wellbeing. These metrics help to refine our business focus and identify areas that need improvement.

The areas we’re working on include carbon neutrality (we’ve set a 2025 carbon-neutral target and are focused on real reduction over offsetting), working with our suppliers to reduce impact (from packaging to carbon and beyond), bettering our supply and demand planning to reduce overstock, end-of-life recycling solutions for products in all hubs, and working with our team globally on increased volunteering and professional development.

We’ve also had a lot of great partnerships over the years and have donated more than $2,000,000 to causes and campaigns that advocate against single use for a biodiverse planet. Our partners include Reground, Sea Shepherd, Planet Ark’s Circular Economy Hub, Plastic Free Foundation and One Million Women to name a few.

In 2019, we became a member for 1% for the Planet, and committed to donating at least one per cent of our global revenue to environmental causes. Our pledge to provide one per cent of revenue sits within our broader commitment to do business better.

Is it safe to use KeepCups at a cafe during COVID-19?

During the COVID-19 crisis, single use has unfortunately been incorrectly equated with good hygiene, and a surge in plastic waste has been reported as an outcome of the pandemic. This raises concern about the acceptance of reusables and exploitation of these concerns by the plastics industry. In line with these setbacks, “convenience culture” has crept back into everyday life, making the fight against the climate and plastic pollution crises as important as ever.

KeepCup has worked hard to overcome this by sharing the science, which shows that reuse can and does safely continue. The science shows that single use is not inherently safer than reuse. This messaging was helped with the backing of a published signed statement from more than 100 scientists to reassure the public that reusables are safe, provided basic hygiene is adhered to. You can read the signed statement on our website.

5 ways to ensure your KeepCup is safe to use:

  • Wash your reusable items in the dishwasher or handwash with detergent.
  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water or use hand sanitiser if soap and water isn’t available.
  • As usual, only hand over a clean and dry KeepCup to your barista and keep hold of your lid.
  • If your cafe isn’t accepting reusables, decant your coffee from a ceramic cafe cup into a KeepCup.
  • Support local cafes that accept reusables.

If you could imagine a new world, what would it look like?

My “new world” is powered by renewables, with a focus on rewilding and tree planting — so the air is clean and there are trees and greenery everywhere. Working from home and the transition to a circular economy has meant that local communities are vibrant and networked by great fast rail networks. Single-use packaging has been banned except under strictly required circumstances that have changed food networks, the sharing economy and how we enjoy food and time out of home.

What does a typical day look like for you?

As I’m responding to these questions, I find myself in stage four lockdown in Melbourne. A typical day is getting up, going for a run or bike ride either by myself, with one of my kids and/or dog and then working from home. I love listening to podcasts and audiobooks. Right now I’m listening the The Future We Choose by Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac and finding it inspirational to drive our business mission.

Any beauty secrets you swear by?

Health, happiness and a good night’s sleep. I am fair skinned, but I am super concerned about sunscreen — which contains plastics and chemicals — entering our body and the oceans, so my beauty and health secret is to cover up rather than sunscreen up.

What is your guilty pleasure?

Salt and vinegar chips, a beer and some Scandinavian crime.

What’s next for you personally?

The lockdown has been difficult for the business but has provided a wonderful personal opportunity to reconnect with health, family and home at a different pace and intensity level. Personally, for me it’s about connecting my day to day with the things that move me — more time outside, more time to think and more time with my husband and kids.

What’s next for KeepCup?

KeepCup will continue its mission for a world that no longer needs, wants or uses single-use cups and will advocate for government bans on single-use plastics and convenience packaging.

Visit to join the revolution.