How to set up a mug library and save money on single-use cups

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What is a mug library?

Similarly to a book library, a mug library is a stash of mugs at the cafe, which customers can borrow when they forget their keep cup or are ready to make the switch and become more planet-friendly.

mug library
mug library close up shot

Why set up a mug library?

It is estimated Australians use 1 billion disposable coffee cups each year. That’s approximately 2,700,000 paper coffee cups thrown out every day! 

If your Cafe stocks ‘compostable’ or ‘biodegradable’ cups, keep in mind that these need to be processed through commercial composting facilities in order for them to break down. This means someone has to collect them via a special bin and take them there! 

You may find a few of these special bins provided in certain cafes. But hold on. When people are finishing their drink at the venue, what’s the point of them drinking from a takeaway cup? 

Luckily, single-use cups are about to be banned (well sort of) at the end of the year 2022 but why not start reducing your carbon footprint now? 

How much money will I save?

We are currently running a trial with our client Miss Pickles in Osborne Park. Sign up for our newsletter if you’d like to receive the results.

How to set up your mug library

Setting up a mug library is easy!

  • Pick up around 30-40 mugs from a local op shop or recycling centre and pop them in a cute box or basket.
  • Make a sign with something like “Did you forget to BYO cup? Let’s reduce the single-use!” (If you are a Donut Waste member you can download your .PDF sign from resources.)
  • Let your baristas know to give the library a plug every time someone orders a coffee.
  • Make some noise about it on your social media pages. 

Alternatively, you can get in touch with Donut Waste and we’ll organise all this for you. Including signs and social media promotion.

How to convince your customers to make the switch

  • Put up multiple signs encouraging reuse and explaining your new mug library. 
  • Train your baristas to offer reusables. 
  • Offer a discount on drinks in reusables or even better, charge more for single-use. 
  • Post on social media, talk about your sustainable values. 
  • Share the wins — talk and post about how much waste you saved from going to landfill. 
  • Show keep cups and reusables as a normal behaviour aka ‘everyone is doing it’ – pictures of your happy customers work the treat.

What is a boomerang cup library?

Just like your mugs, you can create a library of reusable cups. Simply collect a few glass jars or ask in your local Buy nothing group. There are plenty of jar holders around. (Yes, you guessed it, I’m one of them.)


  • Please use our MUG library sign (PDF, 119 KB)
  • 7 tips to make your venue more sustainable (PDF, 3.1 MB)
  • Western Australia’s Plan for Plastics Presentation (PDF, 1.5 MB)

To access these, head to the resources page.

Or ask about your 1-month free trial.

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