Starbucks trials 5p paper cup charge

Starbucks has today (26 February) announced a 5p surcharge trial on paper cups in select London stores in a bid to help reduce waste and encourage the uptake of reusable cups.

Starbucks has introduced the 5p ‘latte levy’ across 35 stores in London, donating all proceeds from the charge to environmental charity Hubbub. The charity will track the effectiveness of the three-month trial, monitoring changes to customer behaviour.

“We’re hoping that this charge will remind customers to rethink their use of single-use plastic-lined cups, as it has with plastic bags,” Starbuck’s vice president of communications Simon Redfern said.

“We’ve offered a reusable cup discount for 20 years, with only 1.8% of customers currently taking up this offer, so we’re really interested in working with Hubbub to see how this charge could help to change behaviour and help to reduce waste.”

The 5p charge was agreed upon back in January, following calls from the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) for a 25p ‘latte levy’ to be used as a lever to ensure all single-use coffee cups are recycled by 2023.

Research commissioned by Starbucks found almost half of survey respondents would carry a reusable cup in order to save money and reduce waste. Across the retail sector, Argos sold 537% more reusable cups in December 2017 compared to the same month the previous year, while John Lewis reported a similar increase in sales.

Starbucks has offered customers a £1 reusable cup since 2014, but is now adding the 5p charge to any paper cup purchases to drive further action. Starbucks has offered a range of incentives to reduce paper cup use, including a 25p discount for customers who bring in reusable cups.

The company revealed that these initiatives 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.

Collective collections

Proceeds from the 5p charge will be used by Hubbub to support other campaigns aimed at reducing waste across the capital. Working with companies like Starbucks, Hubbub has collected more than 1.2 million paper coffee cups across Manchester and London. These campaigns were built on the startling fact that of the 5,000 coffee cups discarded each minute in the UK, less than 1% recycled.

Hubbub’s co-founder Gavin Ellis added: “Our early conversations with customers have shown an increased awareness of the need to reduce waste from single-use cups. Previous studies have shown that adding a charge on single-use cups is more effective than money off a reusable cup.

“We’re excited to be working on this initiative with Starbucks to find out if this is the case on the high street and to discover what else will encourage people to use reusable cups.”

Hubbub at edie Live

Hubbub’s chief executive Trewin Restorick will be speaking at the Resource Efficiency theatre at day one of edie Live in the NEC, Birmingham.

Running between 22 – 23 May 2018, edie Live plans to show delegates how they can achieve their Mission Possible. Through the lens of energy, resources, the built environment, mobility and business leadership an array of expert speakers will be on hand to inspire delegates to achieve a sustainable future. For more information click here.

Matt Mace

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