Starbucks has announced that, following a three-month trial in London, it will be introducing a five pence paper cup charge across all 950 stores in Britain, effective from Thursday 26 July.
The new initiative will see customers charged an additional five pence for use of the cup when purchasing a hot beverage. Those using reusable cups have already received a 25 pence discount off any Starbucks drink for several years, with other coffee chains such as Pret A Manger and Costa offering similar deals.
Starbucks’ London trial, conducted in partnership with environmental campaign charity Hubbub, produced positive results, showing a 126 per cent increase in the use of reusable cups in participating outlets, measured by the number of customers redeeming the reusable 25 pence cup discount.
Hubbub compiled a report evaluating the overall impact of the charge on customer behaviour. It shows that the percentage of customers bringing in their own cup increased in the trial stores from 2.2 per cent before the trial to 5.8 per cent during the trial. The report also found that mornings see the greatest number of customers using reusable cups, with 8 per cent of all hot drinks served in reusable mugs.
The results indicate that enforcing the five pence charge across the UK, with supporting in-store communications and staff training, would have a positive impact on reducing disposable cup use.
In January this year, a report by MPs in Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee said that coffee shops should be made to charge 25 pence for the use of disposable cups, after it emerged that 99.75 per cent of the 2.5 billion cups disposed of annually in the UK are not recycled.
While the charge to be enforced by Starbucks is significantly smaller than that called for in January, the five pence cost is a bid to encourage customers to use a reusable cup through placing a value on the environmental impact of the product.
Starbucks has been widely sharing its current and planned environmental policies. Earlier this year, Starbucks committed $10 million (£7.5 million) to developing a fully recyclable and compostable hot cup in partnership with Closed Loop Partners. Currently, all drink-in customers are served with ceramic cups, and all UK stores offer paper cup recycling bins, though the final destination of the majority of used paper cups – which are very difficult to recycle due to the mixed-material composition of the items – is unclear.
The company has also announced plans to eliminate single-use plastic straws globally by 2020, including creating a new strawless lid – currently launched in 150 stores – as a standard on all iced coffee, tea and espresso beverages, while straws made from alternative-materials, such as paper, for Frappuccino-blended beverages or customers who prefer or need a straw will also be made available.