| UK

Reusable coffee cup scheme trialed at Gatwick airport

Partnership between Starbucks and environmental charity, Hubbub, sees 2,000 reusable cups put into circulation from the coffee chain’s South Terminal store

Gatwick airport currently disposes of 7 million paper cups every year, of which 5.3 million are recycled 

The #CupCupandAway initiative aims to tackle single-use waste pollution at Gatwick and is funded by Starbuck’s 5p disposable cup charge first trialled in London in July 2018. The month-long trial will see South Terminal passengers given the option to borrow a free reusable coffee cup, which they then can return at one of five drop-off points.

Gatwick airport currently disposes of 7 million paper cups every year, of which 5.3 million are recycled. According to Hubbub, the trial is designed to engender a new culture of ‘reuse on the go’ among air passengers and reduce waste at travel hubs where consumers are more likely to use single-use utensils.

The trial aims to put 2,000 reusable Starbucks cups in circulation throughout Gatwick’s South Terminal, which could drastically reduce the number of paper cups being used each day. Even if just 250 customers opted for a reusable cup each day, over 7,000 paper cups could be saved in one month.

“The purpose of working with Hubbub and Gatwick is to help create a new culture of reuse on-the-go by giving customers the option of a reusable cup instead of paper for free," said Jaz Rabadia MBE, UK Senior Manager of Energy and Sustainability at Starbucks.

"We are optimistic that the ‘Cup Check-In’ points around the airport will provide enough places for customers to return their cups on the way to their gate, but also recognise this might not for everyone," she added. 

Waste generated by disposable cups and single use plastics has become a prominent topic in the UK coffee shop segment. It is estimated that some 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups are used in the UK every year and while there have been many proactive efforts to address the issue, a definitive solution to the problem remains elusive. While most of the UK’s larger coffee chains have offer some incentive for reusable cup use, the costs involved and the potential to damage takeaway trade are, however, significant disincentives for smaller businesses to alter their takeaway operations.

In June 2018, 21-strong Boston Tea become became the first UK coffee shop to completely ban disposable cup from its stores. The chain later revealed the ban had resulted in 25% reduction on takeaway sales but added it had sold 40,000 reusable coffee cups and prevented some 125,000 paper cups going to landfill over one year.

Research by Allegra identifies a growing appetite among consumers to reduce disposable cup waste, with discounted coffee the most popular incentive among consumers surveyed. Extra loyalty points and a free reusable cup polled second and third place.

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