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Highland reusable cup scheme launched at NC500 businesses to reduce waste ahead of busy tourist season

A total of 25 businesses along the NC500 have signed up to reduce the impact of visitors on the environment.

Tara Jaffray, owner of Corner on the Square in Beauly with one of the reusable cups, and Catherine Gee, deputy chief executive of Keep Scotland Beautiful. Image: Sandy McCook/DC Thomson.
Tara Jaffray, owner of Corner on the Square in Beauly with one of the reusable cups, and Catherine Gee, deputy chief executive of Keep Scotland Beautiful. Image: Sandy McCook/DC Thomson.

Visitors and residents are being encouraged to switch to reusable cups to reduce rubbish as part of a new Highland scheme.

Spearheaded by Keep Scotland Beautiful, the movement will help reduce single-use cups, especially along the popular NC500 route.

In Scotland, more than 200 million single-use cups are used and discarded, while only 4% are recycled.

A recent survey found 91% of Highlanders were concerned about the environmental impact of littered takeaway cups.

In response, Keep Scotland Beautiful reached out to 25 takeaway businesses along the NC500 to sign up to the scheme.

Tara Jaffray, pictured left, owner of Corner on the Square in Beauly, with Catherine Gee, deputy chief executive of Keep Scotland Beautiful. Image: Sandy McCook/DC Thomson

Ahead of a busy tourist season, the scheme is aimed at tourists visiting the Highlands and residents who regularly visit their favourite dining spots for takeaway drink.

Customers should:

  • Download and access the Vytal app.
  • Put in their details and use the handy map to find a takeaway signed up for the scheme.
  • Tell the server what drink you would like and that you want it in a Vytal cup.
  • Scan the QR code on the app and the cup.
  • Return the cup within 14 days.
  • If unreturned, £4 will be taken from your account and you will then own the cup.

Each of the businesses along the famous route has been given 30 cups to begin, and each cup is tracked to find out where each cup ends up and how many times it’s reused.

‘Very conscious of number of single use cups we use’

Businesses signed up to the Highland reusable cups scheme include Whisky Away, XOKO, Utopia Cafe in Inverness, North Coast Coffee in Tain and the Midge Bite Cafe in Achnasheen.

Tara Jaffray, owner of Corner on the Square in Beauly, said: “We all have to take the chance to do our bit and reduce waste at every given opportunity.

“As a new owner of a hospitality business offering takeaway, I am very conscious of the amount of single-use cups we use.

“I am delighted to be taking part in this trial initiative and hope to educate and encourage as many customers as possible to join the Highland Cup Movement.

Maru Fraser, manager of the community-led Rosemarkie Beach Cafe, recalled a customer telling her about buying a coffee using a Vytal cup from a cafe in Nairn.

Maru Fraser, manager of Rosemarkie Beach Cafe where many travellers along the NC500 stop off to dolphin watch. Image: Sandy McCook/DC Thomson.

Being a resident, she was ecstatic there was now a return point in Rosemarkie, an ideal place, as tourists come to see the dolphins.

Ms Fraser says many customers purchase drinks in single-use cups to take with them along the beach but end up bringing them back, so the scheme will be useful in reducing the cafe’s reliance on cups.

Catherine Gee, deputy chief executive of Keep Scotland Beautiful understands single-use cups offer convenience, but they are harmful to the planet and is keen to make “reuse the norm”.

The scheme was looking to recruit 20 businesses but has pushed to 25 due to interest in the Highland Cup Movement, which will run throughout the 2023 tourist season.

We know the problems with the NC500, but what are the solutions?

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