Independent coffee chain Boston Tea Party is to ban the use of disposable coffee cups in its cafes from 1 June, and will share knowledge with the rest of the industry on how well alternatives work.
Its move follows growing public concern about cups that appear to be recyclable cardboard but cannot go into recycling streams because they have a plastic coating.
Boston Tea Party said it had offered a 25p discount to people bringing their own cup, but acceptance had been minimal with only 3% of customers doing so. The company said that, from 1 June, customers must bring their own cup, buy one in the shop made by Ecoffee or borrow a cup from the shop.
It explained: “We want to demonstrate to other operators that, to make a difference, big change is needed. We will make this work and we’ll share details of how we have done it with anyone who wants our help to do the same.”
Supermarket Waitrose this month said it would remove all disposable coffee cups from its shops by autumn 2018, saving more than 52 million cups a year. It will initially remove disposable cups in nine branches from 30 April to understand how to manage the change.
Tor Harris, Waitrose head of sustainability and responsible sourcing, said: “We realise this is a major change, but we believe removing all takeaway disposable cups is the right thing to do.”
Meanwhile, Heathrow Airport has said it will enable the recycling of all coffee cups collected from retailers and business lounges by the end of 2018.
As a first stage, all retailers would use a recyclable standardised paper cup and would later explore how a reuse system could be implemented, helping to save more than 13.5 million coffee cups a year.
Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye said: “We are committed to reducing our impact on the environment and using all our influence to ensure individual companies working within our boundaries do so as well.”
Costa, which says it is the UK’s largest coffee shop chain, has already committed to recycle the same volume of cups that it puts into the market.
It hopes by 2020 to recycle up to 500 million cups a year, equivalent to Costa’s yearly sales and one-fifth of the takeaway coffee cups consumed across the country.
Costa will pay waste collectors a supplement of £70 for every tonne of cups they collect. It said: “This will more than double their recycling value.
”We believe that by creating a market for cups as a valuable recyclable material, we can transform the UK’s ineffective and inconsistent ‘binfrastructure’. We will have made it commercially and financially attractive for waste collectors to put in place the infrastructure and processes to collect, sort and transport coffee cups to recycling plants, meaning fewer cups will end up in landfill.”