With their IdealCup Stephanie and Nick Fry are on a mis­sion to rid the coun­try of sin­gle-use dis­pos­able cups that clog our land­fills. And they’re fi­nally mak­ing head­way.


As a cause, this one’s right up there with the best of them.

New Zealand is a cof­fee-ob­sessed na­tion. We use more than 200 mil­lion dis­pos­able one-use cups and lids ev­ery year – the vast ma­jor­ity end­ing up in land­fill.

In Motueka, IdealCup own­ers Stephanie and Nick Fry are lead­ing the fight to re­duce the num­ber of dis­pos­able cups that pol­lute New Zealand’s en­vi­ron­ment and end up in land­fills.

Their IdealCups are man­u­fac­tured us­ing just two ma­te­ri­als. They are dish­washer safe, fea­ture an in­no­va­tive fin de­sign to help with heat dis­si­pa­tion, and they can be used with re­us­able or dis­pos­able, com­postable café lids.

The IdealCup story be­gan in 2004 when Stephanie and Nick started their cof­fee roast­ing busi­ness in Welling­ton. At the time Nick was also a full-time fire­fighter.

Three years later the cou­ple be­came in­volved in waste re­duc­tion – a cause sparked by a waste au­dit of their cof­fee busi­ness which re­vealed how much waste they were pro­duc­ing, par­tic­u­larly from dis­pos­able cups.

“We looked around for re­us­able cups al­ready in the mar­ket and couldn’t find any­thing suit­able. So we de­cided to de­velop our own,” re­calls Stephanie.

Af­ter two years of devel­op­ment work, guided by the three Rs of waste min­imi­sa­tion (Re­duce, Re­use and Re­cy­cle), by the be­gin­ning of 2010 they were ready to launch the IdealCup.

“The orig­i­nal con­cept was for a cup and no lid,” says Nick. “The idea was the cup could be used with com­postable lids. The cup was to be de­sign-driven to re­duce the num­ber of ma­te­ri­als used; a sim­ple ro­bust de­sign that could be man­u­fac­tured in New Zealand and re­cy­cled at the end of its use­ful life.

“Early feed­back showed there was a demand for a re­us­able lid to be used with the cup so we de­vel­oped our first re­us­able lid.”

To say the IdealCup jour­ney has been fraught with dif­fi­culty would be an un­der­state­ment.

First, there was the is­sue of find­ing a cup man­u­fac­turer who would use re­cy­cled plas­tic – and, just as im­por­tant, one that could work with a small busi­ness such as IdealCup.

Stephanie and Nick have also been frus­trated by the fact that most dis­pos­able com­postable cups and lids end up in land­fill, due to the fact that New Zealand has lim­ited com­mer­cial com­post­ing fa­cil­i­ties.

The IdealCup’s fin de­sign is a clever way to dis­si­pate heat – but the cou­ple aren’t happy that other re­us­able cups in New Zealand use sil­i­con bands im­ported from China to dis­si­pate heat – bands that are not re­cy­clable here. This re­quires an ed­u­ca­tion process when mar­ket­ing their cups.

In 2014 Stephanie and Nick moved to Motueka for a change of life­style. Nick had grown up there and it seemed the ideal place to raise their son.

By em­ploy­ing con­trac­tors they found it easy to run their busi­ness re­motely, with just the oc­ca­sional trip to Welling­ton for Stephanie.

The cou­ple have been talk­ing to the Tas­man District Coun­cil and Our Town Motueka about their ‘ Make Motueka Dis­pos­able Cup Free’ am­bi­tions.

“Our plan is to do­nate cups to lo­cal busi­nesses so they can par­tic­i­pate in the CupCy­cling Pro­gramme,” says Stephanie. “Hope­fully this will en­cour­age a pos­i­tive up­take of our vi­sion and we can re­ally make some head­way.”

The cou­ple take a strong stance on so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity too.

“We give back to the com­mu­nity as much as pos­si­ble,” says Stephanie. “Spon­sor­ing and do­nat­ing to events, not-for-profit or­gan­i­sa­tions, ed­u­ca­tion fa­cil­i­ties and more.


Both Stephanie and Nick are proud of how they’ve stuck to­gether through thick and thin – main­tain­ing a strong mar­riage and driv­ing the prod­uct and cause they stand for.

Var­i­ous awards have kept them mo­ti­vated too. In June 2015, they won the Min­istry for the En­vi­ron­ment Green Rib­bon Awards "Min­imis­ing our Waste" award. Fol­lowed a month later by the Do­min­ion Post Gold Awards "Green Gold" for Sus­tain­able Busi­ness Prac­tices.

The same year they at­tended the In­ter­na­tional Green Ap­ple Awards where the IdealCup took out two awards.

Look­ing ahead they’d like to see the IdealCup be­come ubiq­ui­tous in New Zealand with peo­ple pur­chas­ing their per­sonal cup for daily use, as well as groups buy­ing the cups for the CupCy­cling Pro­gramme (see side­box), which al­lows the IdealCup to be used with a dis­pos­able, com­postable lid. Cur­rently it's the only cup that can be.

An­other goal is to have Motueka, Tas­man and Nel­son ‘dis­pos­able cup free’ within the next three to five years – and for IdealCup to be known as New Zealand’s ' go to' re­us­able cup brand.

There are even plans to ex­pand their ex­port ca­pa­bil­ity.

No time to waste then.

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