Starbucks trials 5p charge on disposable cups

In response to a group of MPs calling for a 25p 'latte levy' on disposable paper coffee cups, Starbucks has revealed that it will trial a 5p charge across select London stores.

Starbucks has today (5 January) announced a three-month trial, starting in February, that will test the impact of a 5p charge on in-store disposable coffee cups. The trial will take place across 20 to 25 London stores and marks the first time a major coffee retailer has charged customers extra for a cup.

The chain will partner with charity Hubbub to launch the London-based trial, and money generated from the charge will be used for studies into behaviour change and attitudes towards the uptake of reusable cups.

“We believe that more testing is required to assess the impact a charge may have on changing behaviour,” Hubbub’s chief executive Trewin Restorick said. “To understand how better this could work we are delighted to announce a partnership with Starbucks that will trial and promote a 5p cup charge in 20 – 25 central London stores.

“The trial will investigate the impact of a 5p charge on a paper cup, coupled with the prominent marketing of reusable cups, on customer behaviour. Our joint findings will be shared with any interested parties before taking a view on next steps.”

Starbucks already offers discounts for customers that bring reusable cups into stores, with the chain revealing that this offer had led to a 1.7% increase in reusable cup purchases. The company also 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.

Latte levy

The 5p charge was announced after the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) called for a 25p ‘latte levy’ to be used as a lever to ensure all single-use coffee cups are recycled by 2023. The Committee called on the UK Government and the industry to address the 2.5 billion coffee cups that are thrown away annually, noting that voluntary retail efforts to date are “not working”.

While Starbucks and Costa offer 25p discounts for consumers who bring in reusable cups, Pret this week doubled its discount to 50p.

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 company 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 chalk boards by product designers Ashortwalk, which has previously worked with Nextek on a recycling solution.

Starbucks at the edie Sustainability Leaders Forum

Starbucks’ Simon Redfern is one of the expert speakers that will appear on stage at edie’s Sustainability Leaders Forum in January 2018.

Taking place on 24-25 January, the Sustainability Leaders Forum will bring together more than 600 ambitious professionals moving beyond environmental objectives to deliver transformational change and create brand value every year.

The two-day event, which runs alongside the Sustainability Leaders Awards, will feature interactive workshops and enhanced networking to give you the most comprehensive and immersive experience on the day. For more information and to book your place at the Forum, click here.

Matt Mace

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