24 April 2018 | UK

Boston Tea Party becomes first UK coffee chain to ban disposable cups

Independent coffee shop becomes first in the UK to announce ban on use of disposable coffee cups but acknowledges move could hurt revenues
The coffee shop, which has 21 stores in the UK, will ask customers to switch to reusable cups or bring their own in-store from June 1.
 
“Lots of coffee chains are making pledges about how they plan to tackle cup waste in the future.  But theirs is a future which is too far away. We need to stop right now,” said owner and Managing Director, Sam Roberts, in a press statement.
 
Acknowledging the potential for £1m in lost revenues from takeaway sales disruption, Roberts said he was determined to make the scheme a success. “We will make this work and we’ll share details of how we’ve done it with anyone who wants our help to do the same.  We dream of a future where our children marvel at the fact that pre-2018 we would regularly use a cup once and throw it away.”
 
Takeaway hot drinks currently make up 5.2% of the company’s £19.8m turnover.
 
2018 has already seen a string of initiatives to cut coffee cup waste as the issue attracts increasing public scrutiny. It is estimated that only 1 in 400 coffee cups are recycled in the UK, with the rest going to landfill.
 
Virtually all of the UK’s major coffee shop chains have trialled incentives to woo customers away from disposable cups, often with low up-take. Boston Tea Party said that just 2.8% of customers took advantage of a 25p discount for bringing their own cup. Subsequently, many UK businesses have turned their focus to recycling or getting rid of disposable coffee cups entirely.
 
UK supermarket, Waitrose, announced in April it would remove disposable coffee cups from its 352 stores by the end of the year, an initiative it says will save 52 million cups annually.
 
The UK’s major coffee shop chains have also ramped up efforts to tackle disposable cup waste. In early April Costa Coffee announced measures to recycle the same value of coffee cups used by its customers each year, a plan which involves recycling up to 500 million coffee cups a year by 2020.
 
Starbucks too announced earlier in the year that it would work with the wider industry and environmental charity, Hubbub, to provide high street collection points for coffee cup recycling. In March, the global coffee shop chain announced it would trial a 5p disposable coffee charge across 35 London sites.
 
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