Starbucks reports 150% increase in reusable cup use since introduction of 5p charge

Results come six weeks into company's trial of measure to reduce waste in select London outlets

Josh Gabbatiss
Science Correspondent
Thursday 26 April 2018 19:21
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What do people think of Starbucks charging 5p for coffee cups?

A charge placed on disposable coffee cups in select Starbucks outlets has led to a 150 per cent increase in reusable cup use, according to a preliminary assessment by the company.

As part of the coffee giant’s efforts to tackle disposable coffee cup waste, it has added a 5p charge to all paper cups sold in 35 shops across parts of central and west London.

The increase, measured by the number of customers redeeming the 25p reusable cup discount, was observed just six weeks into the company’s three month trial in the selected outlets.

However, the proportion of customers bringing in their own cups is still fairly modest – only 5.9 per cent compared to 2.2 per cent in the same stores before the trial began.

All money made from the charge goes to environmental charity Hubbub.

“We are encouraged by the initial results of our trial that show that by charging 5p and increasing communication on this issue, we can help to reduce paper cup use,” said Jason Dunlop, the chief operating officer of Starbucks in the UK.

“We look forward to sharing the full report on this cup charge trial, in collaboration with Hubbub, with the wider industry as we work together to find sustainable solutions.”

The Independent’s Cut the Cup Waste campaign previously took to the streets to gauge public enthusiasm for Starbucks’ trial.

The general consensus was positive, a result that was consistent with an exclusive survey for The Independent that revealed 54 per cent of the British public supported the introduction of a “latte levy” by the government.

A latte levy – as proposed by the Environmental Audit Committee earlier this year – would consist of a 25p charge added to all disposable coffee cups sold in shops.

The aim of the charge would be to discourage people from using disposable coffee cups – which are lined with plastic and not widely recycled – and the money from the levy would go towards better waste management infrastructure.

Despite this support, ministers have so far indicated such a levy will not be introduced.

Starbucks has also pledged £7m to develop a “fully recyclable and compostable” cup following a campaign urging the company to fulfil a decade-old pledge to introduce 100 per cent recyclable coffee cups.

However, industry experts have pointed out that disposable cups are already recyclable, and the major hurdle that must be overcome is building the infrastructure to get them to appropriate waste management facilities.

The UK’s largest coffee chain, Costa Coffee, recently announced plans to fund the recycling of half a billion coffee cups a year by 2020 – the equivalent of all the cups it put on the market.

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