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Meet the entrepreneur behind the world’s first barista standard reusable coffee cup

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Entrepreneur and mother of two Abigail Forsyth has always been a passionate problem solver. Following her Law and Arts studies at the University of Melbourne, Abigail worked as a solicitor.

In 1998, her career path changed significantly when – along with her brother Jamie – founded Bluebag, a fresh and healthy collection of cafés in Melbourne’s busy CBD laneways. Abigail and Jamie were alarmed by the huge quantity of food packaging used by hospitality industry and they began searching for more sustainable and stylish ways to serve food and coffee.

Unimpressed and uninspired by other reusable cups on the market, Abigail and Jamie decided to design and manufacture their own version. The outcome was a lightweight and thoroughly considered design that was BPA free and non-toxic; the world’s first barista standard reusable cup, KeepCup was born.

How is KeepCup doing so far?

Over 5 million environmentally conscious people have now adopted the KeepCup. If we estimate that 80% of these people drink 8 takeaway coffees each week, then over a year, KeepCup users will have diverted 3.5 billion disposable cups from landfill. This equates to removing over 4000 tonnes of disposable cups from landfill and saving enough energy to power 5000 homes for a year. Furthermore, this leaves 50,000 trees left standing in a forest somewhere – that’s a lovely thought.

KeepCupThe first KeepCup was sold in June 2009 and eight years on, the brand has developed into a global phenomenon. Abigail heads up the team of over 40 employees, with offices in Melbourne, London and most recently Los Angeles. From modest beginnings, the KeepCup is now keeping drinks warm in 65 countries throughout the globe including Australia, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, the USA, South Africa, parts of Asia, and throughout Europe, with plans to broaden their ‘Reuse Revolution’ even further.

In Melbourne, a city where coffee and style go hand-in-hand, leading restaurateurs and café trendsetters have joined the fan club. Seven Seeds, Five Senses, Merlo, Campos and Toby’s Estate are but a some of the premium roasters who have thrown their support behind KeepCup, while some of their high-profile corporate clients have included ANZ, NAB, Westpac and QANTAS.

Dedicated to shifting the culture

Abigail and the KeepCup brand have changed the way even the most discerning coffee drinkers enjoy their daily dose and she has since been commended in several globally renowned awards. She was a finalist in the City of London’s Sustainable City Awards (2010), Premier’s Design Awards (2010) and Melbourne Day Awards (2010), as well as being shortlisted for the Australian International Design Awards (2010) and the Red Dot Industrial Design Awards Hamburg (2010).

Abigail Forsyth
Abigail Forsyth

Abigail has devoted her professional life to finding creative solutions that challenge our disposable culture by developing the KeepCup business using her strong leadership skills and business acumen. For a product that weighs only 61 grams, KeepCup has revolutionized consumer behaviour and spread worldwide.

“We think of ourselves as a campaign supported by a product, where the best reusable is the one you use. Ours just happens to be pretty awesome. Many small acts will make a phenomenal difference,” she says.

“The biggest challenge, and of course the biggest opportunity, is building the right team around you to make the business better.  It’s a challenge that is never overcome, but it gets easier if you take the time to understand the drivers and always work on communication and structure,” Abigail went on to tell Anthill.

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