2.5 billion disposable coffee cups are tossed away every single year in the United Kingdom, according to Member of Parliament (MP) Mary Creagh, and Starbucks is planning a new initiative to see if they can persuade drinkers to switch to reusable cups. In 20 to 25 central London locations, they’ll charge five British pence for a disposable cup and then donate the resulting funds to the Hubbub Foundation for a behavior change study.
Will a 5-pence (p) charge convince Londoners to drink their Starbucks in reusable cups? The coffee chain hopes to find out with a three-month-long trial commencing in February. In a statement, they detailed their efforts to influence coffee drinkers to make the change, from implementing a 10p incentive in 1998 to a 50p discount in 2016, but say a mere 1.8 percent of their customers are using reusable cups.
It seems they have a motivation to try something new. MPs want a 25p latte levy – and a total ban on disposable cups by 2023 if they aren’t all getting recycled. Starbucks’ disposable cup isn’t easily recyclable due to a thin layer of plastic to help keep a beverage hot.
Creagh, chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, said the UK’s 2.5 billion thrown-away disposable cups could circle the Earth five and a half times, saying, “Almost none are recycled and half a million a day are littered. Coffee cup producers and distributors have not taken action to rectify this and the government has sat on its hands.”
Starbucks said they’d boost efforts to ensure customers drinking coffee in their shops are offered a ceramic option, as well as reminding customers about the 25p discount for using a reusable cup with in-store marketing. The 5p charge money will go towards a study to help the chain better understand how they can encourage people to choose reusable cups.