World Refill Day is this weekend, and it’s all about preventing plastic pollution to live in a less wasteful world.

Plastic waste breaks down ecosystems and contributes to global warming. By following a few simple steps this World Refill Day, you can help to slow the spread of plastic and protect Australia’s beautiful environments.


Australia’s plastic problem

Each year, Aussies use more than 1.6 billion disposable coffee cups.

According to WWF Australia, our plastic consumption continues to increase every year, jumping from 123 kg per person in 2010 to 147 kg per person in 2021. And if that wasn’t bad enough, only 14 percent of this is recycled, with the rest ending up in oceans or landfill.



In fact, Australia alone release 145,000 tonnes of plastic into the environment every year. This impacts local ecosystems, as marine animals like turtles choke on plastic bags when mistaking them for jellyfish, and other animals inject microplastics which make their way through the food chain.

Most of this waste is used only once before being thrown away. Unlike other materials, plastic doesn’t biodegrade and can take up to 1000 years to break down. This means that discarded products can build up, killing animals, damaging environments and poisoning groundwater. 

The UN reveals that 19-23 million tonnes of plastic waste end up in the ocean each year, contributing to pollution and rates of climate change.


Coffee cups

Every day, Aussies are contributing to single-use waste in ways they don’t even realise, with one of the most common being single-use coffee cups.

Clean Up Australia reveals that hot beverage cups are the second largest contributor to waste after plastic bottles. While it may seem that these cups can be recycled along with other cardboard and paper items, a thin plastic lining makes them waterproof and therefore unable to be properly processed in paper recycling mills. This means coffee cups are instead delivered to landfill where they break down into microplastics and enter our environments. BioPak estimates that single-use cups lead to around 60,000 kg of plastic waste each year.

“Using a BYO or reusable cup every day eliminates plastic waste and is an effective way to reduce carbon emissions,” says Toby Hutcheon from the Boomerang Alliance.

“A disposable plastic-lined cup uses a staggering amount of energy, water and fossil fuel based plastic to make and will be used just once, for a few minutes.

“By making one simple change, you are also directly supporting your local business. The average disposable cup and lid costs a cafe about 23 cents. Switching to BYO cups can save your local cafe a significant amount of money.”



What can you do?

The Boomerang Alliance is an organisation dedicated to reducing waste in Australia by bringing together groups from around the country to engage with meaningful campaigns. This World Refill Day, they have some suggestions on simple ways to be more sustainable in your day-to-day life.

  • Use your own coffee cup and encourage those around you to do the same
  • Carry your own water bottle when you go out
  • Ask your employer to supply reusable cups for staff when ordering at work
  • Check out the member directory on Boomerang Alliance’s Plastic Free Places website for a full list of venues that are dedicated to eliminating single-use plastic items
  • Check whether your local cafe supports reusable cups or has a cup library for regular customers.

Similarly, if you forget your reusable cup when out and about, consider sitting down at the cafe to avoid using a takeaway cup. Reusing is a simple and effective way to reduce waste and carbon emissions.

World Refill Day falls on the 16 June, and it is the perfect time to start a conversation about why preventing plastic pollution is so important. Talk to your friends, family, colleagues and cafes about the damage caused by plastic waste, and be part of the solution.

To read more about Australia’s coffee industry, click here.