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Abigail Forsyth

Co-founder and Managing Director at KeepCup

As the co-founder and Managing Director at KeepCup, Abigail said "we will be sharing our carbon reduction journey as a resource for all, showing the bumps along the way alongside the easy wins."

"As businesses, we can choose to step up and lead, or else find ourselves forced into this change in the face of climate emergency and finite resources," she said. 

When asked how Australia can raise ambition on climate across all sectors and communities, Abigail responded "we call on the government to invest in a green recovery that will create jobs and reboot the economy. Beyond Zero Emissions’ Million Jobs Plan shows a jobs boom resulting from investment in green technologies and net zero commitments."

Read more from our interview with Abigail below.

What is KeepCup?

Launched in 2009, KeepCup has revolutionised the way people enjoy coffee on the go with the world’s first barista standard reusable cup. With a mission to ensure the world no longer wants, needs or uses single-use cups, KeepCup is sold in 76 countries, with an estimated 8 billion disposables diverted from landfill every year.
As a founding B Corporation member, KeepCup is committed to making a positive impact for all stakeholders: workers, customers, suppliers, community and the environment. Through 1% for the Planet, we donate at least 1% of global revenue to environmental causes.

Why is KeepCup taking climate action?

We’re in a nature and climate crisis.

Climate science shows that, as a society, we must limit global heating to less than 1.5°C. Temperatures have already risen 1.1°C and many people around the world are now living with the real, tangible impacts of climate change. Covid-19 and the devastating Australian Black Summer bushfires are harsh wake-up calls on the connection between people and planet, and the need to respond to the science.

The climate and plastic pollution crises continue to grow. In 2015, the last published count, 148 million tonnes of single use packaging was produced in the world, less than 9% was recycled and up to 12% of it burned - compounding emissions impact.

At least 45% reduction in annual emissions are required to limit global temperature rise to less than 1.5°C. This requires a complete reimagining of how we live, decarbonising, dematerialising, and removing unnecessary materials from our economy. This is transformational change. As businesses, we can choose to step up and lead, or else find ourselves forced into this change in the face of climate emergency and finite resources.

What does climate action look like for KeepCup?

We’re committed to net zero by 2025, with a focus on real reductions over offsetting, and are investigating adoption of a science based target.

We design and make reusable and repairable products that replace single-use plastic. When used to their intended lifespan, KeepCups have a lower carbon impact than single-use cups. Used once every weekday for a year, and based on an eight-year lifespan, a Thermal KeepCup has a 77-87% lower footprint than using single-use cups.

We use Life Cycle Analysis of our products to help guide decision-making and identify hotspots in our supply chain. Our 2018 third party, peer reviewed LCA, and the 2020 addition to it, which covers the new KeepCup Thermal, is publicly available online for transparency and to empower others with strong environmental data that can aid decision making.

As a global business, transport of our products is a key area of focus, which is why we choose local manufacture for local markets, where volumes and production capacity allow. 41.5% of our supplier spend is on suppliers within 80km of our hubs.

We preference sea shipping over air freight and work with each of our suppliers to minimise impact in all possible areas. We also encourage our team to have virtual meetings and make cycling an accessible commute option to and from work with secure bike parking and showers.

Our offices have been solar powered since 2015 in Australia, and 2018 in the UK.

In 2019 we installed 76 KW of solar power on the roof in our new Australian offices. We use eleXsys -electricity export system, Planet Ark Power's technology, to export excess power back into the grid. This is cutting edge technology designed to overcome barriers to commercial adoption of rooftop solar.

When it comes to our buildings, we adopt energy-saving measures including LEDs, sensor lights and energy efficient appliances as the baseline, making the extra effort to minimise our impact.

But most importantly we use our voice, and the actions of our customers to advocate for change. We support cross sector campaigns that call on governments and businesses to adopt strong climate action to limit global heating to 1.5degrees.

The efforts of everyday changemakers over the last decade has demonstrated one thing above all else – that people want to be part of the solution and drive positive change. KeepCup is driven by individual behaviour change but, as a collective, we all have the power to remove social licence for single-use products.

Can you share something KeepCup is currently planning or delivering that you are excited about? 

KeepCup is committed to becoming Carbon Neutral by 2025 and we’re stepping up to galvanise momentum for change. Our climate commitments focus on immediate and real carbon reduction over offsetting. We’re working with Edge Environment to calculate our footprint and are investigating adoption of a science based target. We will be sharing our carbon reduction journey as a resource for all, showing the bumps along the way alongside the easy wins.

This year we installed a mini urban solar farm on our AU headquarters, trialling new Australian-designed eleXsys technology that allows solar power to be fed back to the grid at scale. eleXsys is an exciting advancement in technology and one which is likely to overcome barriers to commercial adoption of solar power.

What real-world opportunities has KeepCup uncovered by taking climate action today?

By taking action on climate we’re part of a growing community of businesses driving change. Organisations without strong climate agendas will soon be left behind. Consumers are looking for tangible ways to affect positive change and want to support businesses taking climate action.

KeepCup and the reuse movement has been built from the bottom up, inspiring individuals to make everyday change. From the very beginning we have sought to inspire change by making it fun, inclusive and easy. For many people KeepCup is the beginning of a journey, to consider the impact of single-use, and new ways to lighten our impact on the planet. It all counts.

What action would you like to see Australia take on climate?

Climate leadership. Right now, we’re on the path to a 4- 6°C temperature rise. The Climate Council lays it out, ‘to put this in context, the difference in temperatures between now and the last ice age was around 4 ̊C.’ This is the peril of not listening to the science. With immediate action and government leadership we can turn the ship around.

We call on the Federal Government to stop supporting coal and gas, invest in low impact renewable energy and re-frame success from being judged purely on economic growth to social and environmental health.

We call on the government to invest in a green recovery that will create jobs and reboot the economy. Beyond Zero Emissions’ Million Jobs Plan show jobs booms resulting from investment in green technologies and net zero commitments.

And we call on the Federal Government to shape strong environmental legislation that supports biodiversity and paves the way for a just and biodiverse future.

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