Again Again launches in Auckland

  • News
  • July 4, 2019
  • Courtney Devereux
Again Again launches in Auckland

Coffee is New Zealand’s go to drink of choice, and while our standards are high for the caffeinated drink, they are unfortunately lower when it comes to delivering our uncountable amounts of coffee cups into landfill. Again Again is the newest sustainable coffee keep cup helping to curb this issue. We spoke to co-founder Melissa Firth on how the social enterprise is improving the way we go about reducing waste while still maintaining our high coffee intake. 

So, enter the new cups-as-a-service system for takeaway coffee. The for-profit social enterprise is a circular model, where reusable cups can be purchased by the customer, then returned to any café involved with the system for a new one, enabling less waste from both the user and the café.

Founded in 2018 by Nada Piatek and Melissa Firth, both founders have used their background knowledge in manufacturing, sustainability and retail to create the perfect system for our coffee cup wastages. Firth says changing behavior is always the hardest part, so have tried to position Again Again as the most convenient method for change.

The system is designed to make reuse as normal as convenience when it comes to the world's takeaway coffee habits, while designed for mass adoption. The way the system is positioned counterpoints the current common problems with our coffee habits, says Firth.

“Everyone wants to be good, but change is hard… Again Again is unlike biodegradable disposable cups, most of which are never recycled or composted, or personal reusable cups, which are great but which most people never remember to have with them… There are few people who faultlessly manage to have them in hand every single time you spontaneously want a coffee. Our research showed less than 5 percent of takeaway coffees are purchased in a reusable cup. In Australia, where personal cup usage is higher, they’re still sending 1 billion coffee cups to landfill every year.”

Firth stresses the fact of how much coffee cup waste actually clogs our land. In Aotearoa, we throw away 295 million disposable cups every single year. Global estimates sit at 88 billion hot cups. Each cup contains plastic that contributes to environmental degradation.

The system started, as Firth puts it, when Piatek was on the leadership team for Wellington-based social enterprise Sustainability Trust when the idea for Again Again came to her.

“We spent our days at the Trust looking for new ways to give people sustainable options in the way they lived, and I was learning a lot about waste,” Piatek says. “I’m a coffee drinker, and one day, holding my latest disposable cup, I had a lightbulb moment. It started with ‘my god, we should do this, this could save the world’. I finished up at the Sustainability Trust, convinced Melissa to join me, and over the last year, we’ve developed that kernel of an idea into the system that it is today.”

Cafes pay to be involved with the for-profit system, buying cups as they usually would, yet costs are covered by the savings from not having to purchase large quantities of disposable cups. For example, using the Again Again free cost calculator, an average café that serves 200 cups per day, and pays 30 cents per cup can have an annual saving of just over $1800 by adopting the model. Again Again then gives a percentage of cafe revenue to community partners to deliver waste education initiatives to the public.

Before co-founding the company, Firth says the two were old friends, both with professional backgrounds and a focus on sustainability in business and their personal lives. Piatek was founder of Wellington fashion label deNada, which in its infancy was incubated by CreativeHQ and which she ran for 12 years. Her experience in fashion gave her a solid understanding of manufacturing, which was extremely helpful in the product design stages of Again Again’s cups.

“Before co-founding Again Again with her, I was chief digital officer at Te Papa, where kaitiakitanga (guardianship) and whanaungatanga (community responsibility) are fundamental to the national museum’s mission… When Nada asked me if I wanted to join her in building Again Again, I was excited by the opportunity to apply my understanding of subscription business models, Software-as-a-Service, and the sharing economy to innovation in an industry sector that needs to make significant changes to slow the tide of waste. I’ve always been a make-change-happen kind of person.”

Firth says along with the issues compostable and keep cups bring, most sharing schemes around New Zealand are “hyperlocal, and not designed to be operable at scale across both independent and branded coffee vendors.”

“The power of Again Again is in the network. Because customers can return the cups to any cafe in the network, and because any custom branding is attached to a heat sleeve rather than the cup itself, Again Again’s system can go everywhere. That means real impact at scale. We've estimated, based on available data from our Wellington cafe network, that with 50 cafes at 20 percent average uptake, we are potentially already diverting 30,000 disposable cups from waste every month. It’ll only going to get better from there as we grow.”

Conscious consumers are growing in popularity and are always looking for ways to help reduce waste, as Firth says, they are buoyed by a wave of heightened concern. Equally she points out, it shouldn’t be the sole responsibly of the consumer to make changes.

“To make scalable impact, business needs to step up and take a leadership position on innovating new systems that enable everyone to do the right thing… Scalable solutions and circular economy approaches are completely achievable, they simply take leadership and some effort to think through new systems. We’re hoping that by showing the way on something as ubiquitous as a daily takeaway coffee habit, we’ll inspire, not only consumers, but also other business operators to think more carefully about what they could do differently. It’s going to take all parts of the economy working together to materially make a difference.”

So far Again Again is building organically without investment, yet with enormous global opportunity and a positive adaption so far, the two intend to raise investment later in the year. For a new business, it has had an uncommonly smooth run, which Firth credits to their industry knowledge in both start-ups and cemented businesses.

“We’ve had almost a dream run, with no major barriers in the course of both developing the product, the system and the business model, piloting it, and commencing rollout. I’ve coached a number of startups in my time, and I think, perhaps because both of us are more seasoned than younger founders, that we’ve been able to hurdle decisions and barriers that can trip early stage companies.”

The team spent time and focus on putting early operating procedures into place, which have allowed them to roll the Again Again system out with little issue. The only barriers so far apart from a few wrongly sized lids and GST surrounding the model, was that the system is growing too quickly for them to fund by bootstrapping.

“If anything, our biggest challenge has been that the market is so ripe for this innovation that rapid growth has put pressure on our cashflow to service large orders. The big challenge on the mission side of Again Again is that mass behaviour change is a journey and we are attempting to take society on that journey along with others doing excellent work in this area. Growing the #choosetoreuse movement will be a work in progress for a while yet.”

The cups, in their sleek design and guilt free purpose are in its fourth month of operation and is now in its product/market fit stages. The company is growing incredibly quickly, and no doubt you’ve seen the sliver cups sitting proudly in your local café. Firth says the growth has been insane, both in Wellington and Auckland, receiving many café enquiries after launching in Auckland on June 11.

“In Wellington, we now have 59 pioneering cafes in the Again Again network, including 19 Mojo sites, Vic Books and early adopters Peoples Coffee, Fidels and Superfino… In Auckland we had 40 foundation café partners, including Hipgroup’s Britomart locations, Espresso Workshop, Kind and Crave, most of Ponsonby Central and City Works Depot, among many others. Britomart Precinct themselves have been right behind us since the earliest stages too.”

Even just two weeks after the Auckland launch, another 12 cafes have completed their onboarding process, including Wellington airport which offers cups to both staff and travellers in the domestic terminal.

“We have had, literally, hundreds of enquiries from all around the country and have had a Wanaka cohort, supported by a Souther Lakes District Council grant, confirm to launch in October. Discussions are continuing with many large institutions, many of whom service the tourism industry nationally. Auckland Council have also confirmed a small funding allocation to support our growth in this region.”

Firth says along with café and government support, there has also been a growing increase in interest from corporations looking to get onboard with the movements.

“We’ve had corporates reach out to ask for our help in supporting their staff to reduce their waste in their day to day activities. Many have previously provided personal reusable cups to them, but have found that the cups seem to vaporise pretty rapidly and do not fundamentally change behaviours. Increasingly they, and we, can see that Again Again can provide corporations with an activation tool with which to support a change in how people engage with what was once a single-use activity - allowing the team members to continue with their on-demand coffee needs but to also do that waste free.”

Again Again has an audacious goal, aiming to expand nationally across New Zealand and in doing so will aim to divert 169 tonnes of cups annually from going into our landfills.

“We want to take Again Again nationwide and we want to raise investment to move faster and go offshore - with Australia and UK as first cabs off the rank… Our stated 3 year forecast is to divert 12 million cups annually from New Zealand’s landfills. But we are not just building a business here, we want to start a #choosetoreuse movement. Our mission is to make reuse as normal as convenience for on-the-go culture.”

Firth says Again Again is hitting all the right marks and says that as the company grows and includes more of New Zealand’s coffee loving, environmentally friendly people, the change in behaviour will follow easily.

“Conscious consumerism is here, and all indications are that the time is right for our cup lending system. People care, the message is getting through, and the Again Again system makes it effortless to do the right thing.”

This story originally appeared on Idealog's Elevator Pitch. 

This is a community discussion forum. Comment is free but please respect our rules:

  1. Don’t be abusive or use sweary type words
  2. Don’t break the law: libel, slander and defamatory comments are forbidden
  3. Don’t resort to name-calling, mean-spiritedness, or slagging off
  4. Don’t pretend to be someone else.

If we find you doing these things, your comments will be edited without recourse and you may be asked to go away and reconsider your actions.
We respect the right to free speech and anonymous comments. Don’t abuse the privilege.


Gem Retail Hotlist: Benjamin Black and regional retail

  • News
  • December 12, 2019
  • Sarah Dunn
Gem Retail Hotlist: Benjamin Black and regional retail

Our 'Best provincial retailer: South Island' award was hotly contested in the Gem Retail Hotlist, but in the end, it was Nelson jeweller Benjamin Black that won. Find out more about this boutique craft jeweller.

Read more

The retail diary: December / January

  • News
  • December 11, 2019
  • Sarah Dunn
The retail diary: December / January

The Register and NZ Retail team has rounded up retail-relevant events and important dates for December and January.

Read more

Kiwis predicted to spend more on Christmas than Australians

  • News
  • December 11, 2019
  • Makayla Wallace-Tidd
Kiwis predicted to spend more on Christmas than Australians

New research has found that Kiwis will be spending up large on Christmas in 2019 while Australians will be taking a more conservative approach to the Christmas budget. However, Kiwis are still focused on trying to lower their Christmas spending, and retailers have been warned to keep pricing strategies transparent.

Read more

Social scoreboard

Zavy and The Register have worked together to create a scoreboard that compares how the top 25 traditional media advertising spenders in New Zealand have performed on social media over the past 30 days, updated in real time.

Concept to closet
Business coverage of New Zealand Fashion Week.
Regional rollercoaster
What does retail look like in 2019 for ...
Town centres
A positive retail environment over the past 12 ...
Amazon Arrival
Keeping up with all things Amazon as it ...
The Retail Yearbook 2017
As we battle our way through the busiest ...
The future is bright
We spoke with four retailers in their twenties ...
Hospitality enhancing retail
Some think food and integrated hospitality offerings will ...
Spotlight on signage
At first glance, the humble in-store sign might ...
Red Awards 2016
The Red Awards for retail interior design celebrate ...
Auckland Unitary Plan
Auckland is changing. The Unitary Plan will decide ...
How to open a store
Sarah Dunn considers what it would take to ...
All things to all people
Kiwi retailers share their omnichannel strategies.
Rising stars
Retail's top young achievers.
Delivering on your promises
The sale isn't over until your item is ...
Retail in heartland New Zealand
Retailers keep the regions pumping, but how strong ...
Women in retail help one another. We spoke ...
The changing face of retail
Shifting demographics are creating big changes in New ...
The retail yearbook
With the help of experts in the retail ...
Retail rogues
We put the spotlight on staff training. Jai ...
Here come the giants
Topshop has arrived in Auckland’s CBD, David Jones ...
From retail to e-tail
Ecommerce has become part of the way mainstream ...
Loyalty in the digital age
How are retailers maintaining loyalty? Sarah Dunn, Elly ...
Window shopping: A spotlight on social media
Sarah Dunn and Elly Strang look at how ...
The Innovators | In partnership with Spark Business
Technology is rapidly changing the retail industry as ...
Sponsored content

Christmas music: to carol or not to carol

It’s that time of year again when retailers across the country ask themselves whether they should start playing Christmas music.


Gem Retail Hotlist: Allbirds' Tim Brown is our Retail Visionary

  • News
  • December 11, 2019
  • Catherine Murray
Gem Retail Hotlist: Allbirds' Tim Brown is our Retail Visionary

In the Gem Retail Hotlist, 'Retail Visionary' is one of our most special awards. This year we awarded it to Tim Brown of Allbirds. Here's the scoop on this innovative sneaker brand.

Read more

From concept to closet: New Zealand’s apparel industry in 2019

Held at the end of August, New Zealand Fashion Week is an annual focal point for local designers and those interested in their products. But ...

Next page
Results for
About us.

The Register provides essential industry news and intelligence, updated daily. And the digital newsletter delivers the latest news to your inbox twice a week — for free!

©2009–2015 Tangible Media. All rights reserved.
Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Privacy policy.

The Register

Content marketing/advertising? Email or call 022 639 3004

View Media Kit