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UK coffee chains respond to growing plastic waste awareness

Costa and Pret A Manger announce plans to remove plastic straws from stores in latest move by branded chains to address growing consumer concern on waste
Costa Coffee and Pret A Manger have announced measures cut the number of plastic straws at their UK outlets. The move comes amid growing pressure from environmental experts on the damaging effects of plastic waste and increasing consumer awareness on the issue.

Costa, the UK’s largest coffee shop chain, said that they would be launching a “non-plastic alternative straw” later this year as part of an “ongoing review” of packaging and take-away cups used across its 2,326 UK stores.

 “As part of our ongoing commitment to reducing waste and increasing recycling, we are removing plastic straws from our stores,” said Costa’s UK managing director, Jason Cotta. “Last year we removed straws from our condiment units and now serve them on request only,” he added.

Whitbread, the owner of Costa and Premier Inn, announced earlier this year that it will offer customers at both brands free tap water refills as part of efforts to combat plastic waste.

Pret has also announced the replacement of plastic straws across with paper alternatives across its 354 UK stores, with the former option still available to customers on request

The coffee and food to-go chain recently doubled the discount for customers using their own cups in-store to 50p following a successful trial last year. Starbucks Coffee Company and Costa have also trialled similar initiatives, offering customers a 25p discount for using their own cups, while Caffe Nero offers an additional loyalty card stamp for doing so.

Research conducted by Allegra World Coffee Portal has identified a growing appetite among consumers to reduce disposable cup waste, with 38% of consumers surveyed agreeing that take-away cups should carry a plastic bag-style levy – a 3% increase on 2017.

The moves reflect a wider trend on the high street to curb the amount of packaging waste produced. Non-specialist coffee operators Leon and JD Wetherspoon have moved to remove plastic straws from their outlets, while supermarket Waitrose will cease selling them from September 2018.

EU countries use 36.4 billon straws annually, while the UK throws away an estimated 2.5 billion coffee cups every year.
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