Together as business leaders, we can make a difference.

'Heroes of Net Zero' Follow Us

Town calls time on single-use cups

1336 Killarney Cups

One of south-west Ireland’s main tourist destinations has become the first town in Ireland to commit to a plan to phase out single-use coffee cups. If you buy a takeaway coffee from a cafe or hotel in Killarney, you bring your own cup or pay a two euro deposit for a reusable one.  

The town used to get through around 23,000 cups a week - more than million cups a year, or 18 tonnes of waste.

“It was a plague on the town and countryside,” said Michael Gleeson, chair of the civic improvement group, Killarney Looking Good. Other towns in the south-west, including Tralee and Dingle, are considering the same idea.

“Our challenge is to make our world more beautiful,” Mr Gleeson said.

Eliminating single-use cups is not easy. Only a few other towns in Europe, such as Freiburg in Germany, are known to have tried similar initiatives. Pilot projects often falter because customers find disposable cups more convenient.

Killarney, which recently won the award for Ireland’s tidiest large town, has around 20 independent cafés. The campaign involved face-to-face meetings, a town hall- style gathering, and a video. The organisers emphasised the environmental benefits, but also the financial ones, with each disposable cup costing over 20 cents. 

Eventually, in spite of concerns over their stocks of single-use cups and worries about how their customers would react, nearly all the town’s cafés and takeaway outlets signed up. A credit union donated €5,000 for marketing, and the campaign was launched at the end of July. More than 50 local businesses are now taking part, including a factory that encouraged staff to bring reusable cups to work.

One café not taking part justifies its decision by pointing to its big stock of disposable cups. A neighbouring café is hedging its bets by using both single-use cups as well as reusables. 

Louise Byrne, who was part of the steering group for the Killarney Coffee Cup Project and is a sustainability manager for a local hotel, is confident that the scheme will continue to expand, with a little help from schools and community leaders. 

“While eliminating single-use paper cups will not solve climate change,” Ms Byrne said, “it can serve as a symbolic and practical step towards a more sustainable lifestyle. Making small changes in our daily habits, collectively, can contribute to a larger positive impact on the environment.”

She said that the decision to eliminate single-use paper cups could help to prompt a broader shift in mindset towards sustainability. 

“It encourages people to reflect on their consumption patterns, waste generation, and the environmental consequences of their choices. These small changes can lead to a greater awareness of the interconnectedness between individual actions and the health of the planet.”


If enough businesses act, together we can slow down or help to prevent Global Warming.

A Summary of Evidence

We estimate that widespread adoption of more climate-friendly policies in industry globally, could have the equivalent impact of taking 630.5 million cars off the roads.

Real World Examples

Just a few examples where we have the know-how to do things differently and help both the environment and the bottom line.

Create your Policy

The case for a great return on investment, from water and energy savings is very clear. "Adopt an Investment Policy to Prevent Global Warming".