Have We Taken To Carrying Reusable Coffee Cups?

More than 85,000 of Pret's drinks are now served in reusable cups every week. Here's how things are going in other coffee shops.

Carrying a reusable coffee cup has become an easy way to reduce the amount single-use plastic you use, while signalling your allegiance to the fight against the ever-growing rubbish landfills they feed into.

Since Pret increased the discount it offered to reusable coffee cup drinkers from 25p to 50p in January this year, it has seen a ten-fold increase in reusable cup use. Over 85,000 drinks are now served in a reusable cups every week and customers are on track to save 4 million disposable cups this year.

But how far does this success track when it comes to other coffee shops?

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Following the first six weeks of Starbucks’ trial introduction of a disposable coffee cup charge (which began in February), it saw a 156.6% increase in reusable cup usage, measured by the number of customers redeeming the 25p discount for using one.

The percentage of customers bringing in their own cup has increased to 5.9% in trial stores, up from 2.2% in the same stores before February. Jason Dunlop, chief operating officer at Starbucks EMEA, said the company is “encouraged” by these results.

Costa also told HuffPost UK that since they started offering a 25p discount to reusable cup users in February 2017, they have seen a 1% take-up rate across all of their stores.

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Earlier this month, independent coffee chain Boston Tea Party became the first in the UK to ban disposable coffee cups altogether. Just over two weeks into the ban, it has sold 5,000 reusable coffee cups to its customers. “The feedback so far has been really positive since the ban,” Ben Hibbard, a spokesperson for Boston Tea Party, told HuffPost UK.

“Of course we have had a couple of people who haven’t taken to it quite yet, but it’s about continuing to build the awareness of why we have made the change and what options are available to our customers, so as many as possible can help support us in our stance.”

So what’s the next step to make reusable coffee cups a UK norm? Well, one option that’s been proposed by the Green Party would be the introduction of a nationwide “latte levy” on disposable coffee cups, a policy that was rejected by Parliament earlier this year.

“Despite huge demand from the public, change simply isn’t happening fast enough,” MP Caroline Lucas, told HuffPost UK. “As our oceans fill with plastic, we continue to use 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups in the UK every year.”