Starbucks will charge customers a 5p ‘latte levy’ to use a paper cup at all of its 950 stores across Britain, starting from today, 26 July.
This follows the success of a three month trial across London stores, which showed a massive 126% increase in reusable cup use by customers. Even better, if you bring in a reusable cup Starbucks will offer you 25p off your drink.
HuffPost UK asked Starbucks customers what they think of the charge.
“Why would people use paper cups now? It would definitely persuade me to use a reusable cup,” Reynaldo Pulido, a 46-year old attorney, told HuffPost UK. “If you want to be conscious of both the environment and your money, you will change your behaviour.”
Customers who choose to drink in-store will be served their caffeinated drink of choice in ceramic cups, and all company-owned stores in Britain will offer paper cup recycling. The funds raised from the charge will support recycling and sustainability efforts made by environmental charity Hubbub, particularly on projects aiming to reduce plastic pollution across the UK.
For Rory Gibbons, a 36-year-old construction site manager, where the money from the 5p charge goes is really important. “I think [the charge] is fine, but only if the money is going towards something that is helping the environmental cause,” he said. “There needs to be a clear indication of that.”
He also felt wary of the charge becoming more expensive: “I think [Starbucks] would struggle if it charged more than 20p on top of a cost of a cup of coffee. I think people would struggle with that,”
In contrast, Dorinda Cadar, a 40-year-old researcher, told HuffPost UK that she thought Starbucks could probably get away with charging more than 5p for using a paper cup. “At the end of the day it’s such a small thing but could make a huge difference. Small things that we do like this can make a big change to the environment.”
“If you think about the amount people spend on coffee in general, 5p really isn’t a lot at all,” Isabella Mainwaring, a 21-year-old student, told HuffPost UK. “If I need coffee, I’d pretty much pay anything. Starbucks is such an institution, people will still come back here even if there is a charge.”
There may be a couple of practical elements that coffee chains could iron out to further encourage the use of reusable coffee cups, according to Patricia Gallagher, a 22-year-old student. “I think the thing that puts people off about reusable cups is that you often have to wash them yourself on the go,” she told HuffPost UK.
“Coffee shops should make sure that they have a sink available for people to wash their cups, I think that would stop a lot of people from getting put off.”
Starbucks will also be implementing a global ban on all plastic straws by 2020. The first phase of this ban includes a trial of paper and compostable plastic straws that will be available upon request, as well as ‘strawless lids’.
This trial will be rolled out across 35 London stores, initially. For Rory, taking into account the plastic footprint of our coffee habit is another good step. “We should be reducing our use of plastic as much as possible, so this is definitely a move in the right direction.”