In a bid to cut down on plastic waste, the coffee chain Starbucks has recently announced that all its branches in the UK will be charging customers 5p for a paper cup. This follows a three month trial period in London which saw a substantial increase in the number of people choosing to use reusable cups. In a similar way to how the 5p charge on plastic bags in UK supermarkets has reduced their use, many consumers are now bringing their own cups to Starbucks to avoid this fee.
According to Martin Brok, the president of Starbucks Europe, Middle East and Africa: “We saw encouraging results from the first three months of this trial with Hubbub, and what stood out to us was the positive response we had from our partners (employees) and customers who continue to push us to innovate and find ways to reduce waste. Extending this to all our stores across Britain is an exciting step and we’re hoping this charge will remind customers to rethink their use of single-use plastic as it has with plastic bags.”
In addition to reducing waste across the country, Starbucks have also said that all the money they raise through this initiative will go to Hubbub, who are are environmental charity the company is working with on a sustainability and recycling project. This is an important step, which has been welcomed by campaigners. Currently, 2.5 billion disposable cups are thrown away in the UK every year and calls have been made for businesses and politicians to do more to find solutions to this problem.
Trewin Restorick, CEO and founder of Hubbub commented: “Single-use plastics is an issue that has become more significant in people’s minds than ever before. The trial proved this, showing that customers have an increased awareness of the need to reduce waste from single-use cups. A 5p charge is an effective way to prompt this change. We’re excited to be working with Starbucks, particularly as they take on board the findings of the trial and introduce the charge across the whole of the UK. We look forward to discovering what more can be done to encourage people to use reusable cups.”
The ever increasing amounts of waste being produced globally is having a massive impact and is threatening ecosystems around the world. At the moment, although there are recycling centres for plastic coffee cups, only a fraction actually end up there and in the long term it’s not considered a viable option as waste management companies can’t afford to take them to the right centre.
Starbucks and other coffee chains like Costa have been under fire for a number of years. Costa have recently committed to halving the number of cups they use by 2020. However, Starbucks have received a lot of criticism from campaigners as a pledge it made a decade ago to replace cups with “100% recyclable” alternatives still hasn’t been met. This new commitment is worth around $10 million and the chain has promised to bring its fully recyclable cups to the market in the next three years.