The Plastic Waste Series: Part Two – Disposable Coffee Cups

Article by Hanna Glover August 2, 2018
Reusable coffee cup by Damian Cugley_on flickr

In the second instalment in this three-part series on plastic waste, Hanna Glover finds out how Bath is leading the way in reducing the amount of coffee cups we throw away.

We usually don’t see the harm in the weekly cup of coffee from your favourite coffee shop, however, the use of disposable cups is becoming a considerable environmental worry here in the UK. It’s estimated that 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups are being thrown away each year, which is around 7 million cups per day.

Unfortunately, there are a few misconceptions around how fast these cups can be recycled. This is because the paper cups have a plastic lining inside to stop leakage, meaning they cannot be recycled easily as paper or plastic. The government is planning to implement a 25p ‘latte levy’ on disposable coffee cups, with the hopes that by 2023 all coffee cups will be recycled. This campaign has been backed by Bath council since talks started in November 2017.

Coffee cup by Ross Varrette on UnsplashHowever, all over the UK coffee shops are taking their own initiative to give discounts to customers who come in with their own cups. In Bath alone, there are a number of cafes taking the same action.

The coffee shop Mokoko offers a 10% discount to customers who bring in reusable cups. Customers going to Pret A Manger will get 50p off their hot drink, whilst Starbucks customers will receive a 25p discount on any drink with their reusable cups. Starbucks even sells its own reusable cup for £1. This is definitely a win-win situation, as you are saving money and helping the environment!

On the 1st June, Boston Tea Party began their single use coffee cup ban, whilst Waitrose has also begun only allowing free member tea/coffee to those with a reusable cup. These companies are leading the way in the reduction of single use cups, and hopefully some will follow suit.

However, similar to the initiative to ban plastic straws, restaurants and coffee shops can only do so much. It is up to us as individuals to take initiative by bringing in our own reusable cups when picking up our Monday morning lattes.

What are you doing to reduce plastic waste? Tweet us to have your say and follow the Bristol campaign against plastic pollution.

You may also like