“It takes 21 days to change our habits”: Inside 7-Eleven’s free coffee initiative

Image: Supplied.

While Woolworths’ CEO Brad Banducci defends the supermarket’s use of plastic-toy giveaways to drive sales, 7-Eleven is taking a different approach.

The convenience retailer on Tuesday announced it will offer free coffee to every customer who brings in a reusable cup for 28 days.

The initiative, which runs from August 6 through September 2, aims to help customers kick their disposable coffee cup habit, and permanently reduce the number of single-use cups 7-Eleven is responsible for sending to landfill.

“We know it takes about 21 days to change our habits so over the next 28 days we encourage our customers to come to our stores, present a reusable cup and we’ll fill that cup with coffee for free,” Julie Laycock, 7-Eleven’s general manager of marketing, told Inside Retail.

“Hopefully over the course of the next 21 days that becomes a new habit, therefore taking a lot more single use cups out of the landfill world, with people adopting our coffee in a more sustainable way.”

7-Eleven sells approximately 80 million cups of coffee per year, though the number varies by store and by state. Most of these cups currently end up in landfill, Laycock said, an issue that has gained national attention since the ABC’s War on Waste series debuted in 2017.

“We understand as much as we like selling coffee, the cups that we sell most of that coffee in, most of the time ends up in landfill,” Laycock said.

Last year, the retailer partnered with Simply Cups to reduce the number of takeaway cups it was sending to landfill.

According to the Simply Cups website, there are now over 200 collection stations in 7-Eleven stores across Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia, where customers can drop off their takeaway cups, lids and straws, so they can be recycled or upcycled with other plastics into new products.

More than 1.6 million cups have been collected through the initiative so far, but that is just a tiny fraction of the total number of cups used by 7-Eleven customers.

“[T]he reality is … there’s an awful lot more to go,” Laycock said.

With the free coffee initiative, 7-Eleven is hoping to incentivise more customers to switch from takeaway cups to using reusable ones. Currently just 1 per cent of customers bring their own cup, the retailer said.

“We’re on a mission to try to become a more sustainable business,” Laycock said.

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