Gatwick becomes first UK airport to trial reusable cup drop-off scheme

The initiative could reduce the use of paper cups by more than 7,000 in just one month

Sarah Young
Tuesday 11 June 2019 09:30
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Gatwick has become the first UK airport to trial a reusable coffee cup scheme in a bit to cut down on waste.

As of Monday, passengers will be offered the option to borrow and return refillable cups from Starbucks instead of using disposable, paper alternatives.

Customers will then be able to return the reusable cups to the store or drop off them off at a designated point in the airport before boarding their flight.

The used cups will then be collected by Gatwick’s waste management team, before being returned to Starbucks.

The trial, which was launched by Starbucks in partnership with environment charity Hubbub, has started in Gatwick’s South Terminal and aims to put 2,000 reusable Starbucks cups in circulation.

According to the partnership, if 250 customers opted for reusable cups every day, it could see more than 7,000 paper cups saved in just one month.

Trewin Restorick, CEO and co-founder of Hubbub, said: “We know that people care about waste, but it’s often hard to ‘do the right thing’ when travelling.

“We want to find out whether people will get on board with reusing cups, if we make it easy and convenient.

“The airport is the ideal environment to trial a reusable cup scheme, as it is a closed loop environment and has the potential to reduce large volumes of paper cup waste.

“What we learn here will provide valuable insight into how to deploy a reusable trial in not only other airports, but many other environments.”

Almost three billion single-use cups were used in the UK last year and, while they are technically recyclable, due to the complicated way in which they are produced the vast majority do not end up being recycled.

Though they are made largely of paper, disposable coffee cups are lined with plastic polyethylene, which is tightly bonded to the paper making the cups waterproof and therefore able to contain liquid.


As such, the difficulty of recycling coffee cups is increased by the fact they are contaminated with drink.

This means cups cannot be recycled at standard recycling plants, and must instead be taken to special facilities – only three of which exist in the UK – meaning less than one per cent of coffee cups ever end being recycled.

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As consumers become an increasingly concerned by how much damage pollution is doing to our planet, UK coffee chains are doing more to encourage customers to use less single-use plastic.

You can find out more about how coffee chains, like Pret A Manger and Costa Coffee, are tackling plastic waste here.

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