How an Aussie invention is fighting the war on waste

- April 23, 2019 3 MIN READ

Australia’s love affair with coffee is well known. More than one in four (27 per cent) Australians indicate they cannot survive the day without it[1]. The Australian café and coffee shop industry is estimated to be worth $9.8 billion[2]. Vittoria Food and Beverage alone sells approximately 2 million cups per day in Australia[3].

With this obsession however, comes waste. The #waronwasteAU movement shone a spotlight on the fact that coffee lovers in Australia send over 2.6 billion coffee cups to landfill each year. The movement has led to the rise of the ‘Keep Cup’ and other initiatives to reduce the reliance on these non-recyclable coffee vessels.

But have you ever thought about how many single-use, two-litre plastic milk bottles are used by cafes and coffee shops when making these 2.6 billion coffees? A small, but busy café can easily go through over 500 litres of milk a week – that’s 250 two litre, single-use milk bottles a week or 13,000 milk bottles per year from a single cafe.

Enter a small team of designers and engineers from Australia by the name of Six Simple Machines. Almost 10 years ago, Six Simple Machines designed and built ‘The Juggler’ – the world’s first purpose designed and built milk dispenser for the café environment. The first system was designed and created for a tiny 8 sqm hole-in-the-wall cafe called ‘Sideshow’ in Sydney. The team spent thousands of hours designing, prototyping and testing components that would eventually become part of The Juggler cafe milk tap system.

The innovation extended beyond the machine itself. Milk producers across the country came on board, designing and producing new 10-litre milk ‘bladders’ to fit the system. The typical Juggler configuration holds can hold up to eight of these bladders at any one time, replacing 40 two litre bottles and the need for traditional, bulky fridges to store these 40 bottles in. Open milk bottles also no longer clutter bench space around the coffee machine.

Not only do these replace the need for plastic milk bottles, but the volumetric dosing patented by The Juggler also results in precise measurement of milk each and every time. This means less for every coffee, excess milk is not poured and heated, which in the past needed to be tipped down the sink.

Today along with the hundreds of cafes across Australia including long-standing customers like Three Blue Ducks – who have saved over 65,000 milk bottles by using the Juggler since installing it over 6 years ago – and newer cafes – like Matinee Coffee in Marrickville saving over 7,500 bottles since opening last year – Six Simple Machines have contributed to reducing the consumption of single-use two litre plastic milk bottles by over 16 million units. Some customers like The Boathouse Group have installed The Juggler across multiple venues, saving tens of thousands of bottles per site. Others like Bills go through around 700-800 litres of milk each week in just 2 venues alone, resulting in over 35,000 bottles saved to date.

For many of these cafes, The Juggler is a key component of a bigger commitment to environmental sustainability. It sits alongside the use of ethical and sustainable produce, energy-saving initiatives, and other programs designed to reduce waste and limit negative impacts on the environment.

Co-founders Ross Nicolls and Adam Preston say “It’s fantastic to work with an amazing group of business owners who share similar visions of running a ‘good’, sustainable business in the coffee industry. We are proud to know that The Juggler has had such a positive contribution to the war on waste and the success of our customers.”


[1] https://mccrindle.com.au/insights/blogarchive/australian-attitudes-towards-coffee/
[2] https://www.ibisworld.com.au/industry-trends/market-research-reports/accommodation-food-services/cafes-coffee-shops.html
[3] https://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2015/08/26/australians-love-coffee_n_8029268.html

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