The Coffee Cup revolution has started: from recycling to reusable cups

Around 500,000 coffee cups are discarded every day. These disposable cups cannot be recycled by the normal recycling infrastructure because they are made from cardboard with a tightly bonded polyethylene liner, which is difficult to remove. This  means these cups are not accepted by most paper mills in the UK, where there are only three specialist recycling facilities that can remove the plastic film thus allowing recycling of the paper.

After the Environmental Audit Committee report was presented in December 2017, MPs called for a 25p charge on takeaway coffee to reduce the number of cups thrown away and invest in reprocessing facilities. Since then different measures have been taken by the major UK coffee chains and retailers.

-       Pret A Manger decided to double its incentive towards the reduction of coffee cups usage and now offers 50p discount on hot drinks to all customers who bring reusable cups.

-       Waitrose is to stop using disposable coffee cups with the objective of saving 52 million cups a year. In April disposable cups will be removed from nine stores: Banbury, Billericay, Ipswich, Newmarket, Norwich, Sudbury, Wymondham, Upminster, east London and Fitzroy Street, Cambridge. The scheme will then be rolled out to all its stores by the autumn.

-       Costa Coffee, the UK's biggest coffee chain, undertook the commitment to recycle as many disposable cups as it sells by 2020. While gearing up its recycling initiative Costa donates 25p to selected charities for each customer who returns his/her own cup.

-       Starbucks is working on different fronts. In February 2018, Starbucks introduced a three-month 5p levy trial on paper coffee cups across 35 stores in London. Initial results are very positive with 156% increase in use of reusable cups in just six weeks. In all stores Starbucks offers a 25p discount on any drink when returning a tumbler or cup. It is also working with in partnership with the wider industry and the charity Hubbub to provide collection points on the high street.

-       Boston Tea Party, an independent chain with 21 branches across the South West and the Midlands, will be the first to implement a complete ban on disposable cups, which will come into effect on 1 June 2018.

Pret A Manger:




Boston Tea Party: