Starbucks to introduce 5p paper cup charge across all UK stores

Starbucks will add a 5p surcharge to paper cups in its 950 stores across the UK later this month, as well as vowing to eliminate single-use plastic straws from its global operations by 2020.

The nationwide rollout follows a three-month trial in London, which led to a 126% uplift in reusable cups at participating stores. Starbucks will now add 5p to the cost of any drink purchased in a paper cup across all its stores, in an effort to encourage customers to bring a reusable cup – which entitles them to a 25p discount.

Starbuck’s EMEA president, Martin Brok, said: “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.”

Around 2.5 billion paper coffee cups that are thrown away annually in the UK and Starbucks is one of the many high-street firms taking action to improve recyclability and promote reuse. The company has in-store paper cup recycling bins aimed at encouraging customers to return take-away cups back into the store and boost overall recycling levels.

Funds from the 5p charge will support recycling efforts across Britain, namely through behaviour change initiatives led by environmental charity Hubbub. In fact, the three-month trial saw the percentage of customers bringing in their own cup to stores increase from 2.2% before the trial to 5.8%, according to the charity.

Starbucks was also involved in Hubbub’s Square Mile Challenge, which recycled more than four million cups in London last year. A similar scheme was launched in Manchester and collected cups from both challenges were recycled into bird feeders, plant pot holders and chalkboards by product designers Ashortwalk, which has previously worked with Nextek on a recycling solution.

Hubbub’s founder Trewin Restorick added: “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.”

Starbucks is just one of the companies that formed a joint deal to accelerate the nationwide recycling of paper cups. More than 400 recycling points will be rolled out across the UK as the industry attempts to emulate the recycling success of drink cartons, which are now collected by 92% of UK local authorities through kerbside collections and recycling bank systems.

The last straw

Globally, the company has committed £7m to develop a fully recyclable and compostable cup and has this week pledged to eliminate single-use plastic straws from its operations by 2020.

A strawless lid for iced coffee, tea and espresso beverages has already launched across 150 stores globally. Starbucks will now introduce straws made from alternative materials, including paper or compostable plastic for certain drinks.

Starbucks joins the likes of McDonald’s, Costa, Wagamama and Nando’s in phasing-out plastic straws in some form.

The circular economy at Responsible Retail 2018

The transition to closed-loop business models will be one of the key themes of edie’s third annual Responsible Retail conference, taking place on 20 September 2018 at 99 City Road, London.

The full-day event has been designed for the retailers, sustainability professionals and key stakeholders that are looking for the information, insight and inspiration required to seize the sustainability opportunity.

Find out more about Responsible Retail 2018 and register to attend here

Matt Mace

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