There are three words that are important to Melbourne mama Felicity Ford. Sustainable, ethical and local.
So it comes as no surprise that she is the founder of Uppercup, a certified B-Corporation and Melbourne-made reusable coffee cup business with EVERY supplier to the business located within 25km of their Eastside head office…
Tell us a bit about how and why you started Uppercup?
I have been passionate about the environment and sustainability since I can remember. Before Uppercup, I co-founded numerous not-for-profits but realised what I wanted to do was focus on sustainable products. My family create reusable industrial plastics, so I have always been around Australian manufacturing, so Uppercup was a great fit as it is an Australian manufactured product.
How does Uppercup work to eradicate single use coffee cups from circulation and landfill?
We strive to be as sustainable as possible so on top of fantastic reusable coffee cups we also offer the Uppercup+ which is made from recycled end of life Uppercups! We also offer spare parts to extend our product life. Our Swap & Go Cup program is aimed at the corporate market where we work with head offices who allow every single staff member to borrow a made-to-order Uppercup and return it. You can brand and match them to the company plus you can fit a non-reusable lid on the cup, which is the part of the non-reusable coffee cup that can be recycled. You are removing the barrier to entry of not having to remember a cup, as you can always get one and take back your reusable cups at another time. Remembering a cup is often something people struggle with when going out for a coffee.
Supporting Australian jobs and manufacturing seems to be a key component to the business structure of Uppercup and you ensure that all your suppliers work within a 25km radius of your head office. What suppliers does this include?
Printing, packaging, raw material, employees, warehousing, distribution and manufacturing. We are lucky enough to work within a metro Victorian business hub, where most of our supporting suppliers have been around for over 35 years. We find small choices around using local suppliers makes a big difference to our local community.
Tell us more about the female leaders of Uppercup who are pioneering such responsible and ethical business procedures that make Uppercup more than just a business.
We are passionate young women who are striving to make a difference not just within the sustainability goods sector but also within manufacturing in Australia. We want to be a part of the revolution of reusable product systems being implemented and made locally in Australia over the next 10-20 years. We see a fantastic opportunity for responsible and ethical business to be located in Australia.
You’ve recently become a mum to a gorgeous daughter. Tell us a bit about your little family.
Our family live in inner-city Melbourne, and we have an 18-month-old daughter, who is hilarious. On the weekend we love hanging
out with family and friends, and you can probably find us at the local café, museum or playground.
How do you manage and juggle running a business with personal and family commitments?
“A constant juggle” is most definitely how we would describe our lives. For us, we wouldn’t have it any other way. But we have become strong in owning a life that works for our family. My husband and I choose to co-parent, which means we strive to have 50% of the work done by each of us. When we had our daughter, we had the opportunity to both take primary carer parental leave of three months each. We found this was an excellent opportunity for both parents to bond plus it allowed me to step out of my business briefly and integrate back in sooner.
What advice would you give to other businesses wanting to create a positive impact on society and the environment?
Supply chain, supply chain, supply chain. The companies you choose to receive services and goods from has a huge impact on how ethical and sustainable your business is. Everything we do focuses on our three pillars: minimisation of environmental impact, ethical products and community focussed supply. Manufacturing overseas would be cheaper but the reward for us to produce locally, from control, relationships, and community impact, is so much more significant. You should choose to work on becoming a certified B-Corporation as well. This certification highlights companies that meet a high level of ethical and sustainable business.
What does Uppercup have planned for 2020?
We are excited to be expanding our Swap & Go Uppercup program to more head offices and locations. Three years ago, we implemented a Swap & Go cup program at the Woolworths Head Office. Implementation and uptake were hugely successful, and we have started some other fantastic projects in some exciting companies since. We work with procurement and sustainability managers to make sure it works smoothly for every company. This area is new and exciting, and we look forward to helping companies reduce their waste as this can make a really positive impact on our environment.
Finally, where can we find the fabulous Uppercup?
Uppercups can be purchased at www.uppercup.com