Starbucks Introduces Store-Wide 5p Paper Cup Charge in UK

Connector Summer 2018

Starbucks added a 5 pence surcharge to paper cups in its 950 stores across the UK in July, as well as vowing to eliminate single-use plastic straws from its global operations by 2020.

The nationwide rollout follows a three-month trial in London, which led to a 126% increase in the use of reusable cups at participating stores. Starbucks has now added 5 pence to the cost of any drink purchased in a paper cup across all its stores, in an effort to encourage customers to bring a reusable cup – which entitles them to a 25 pence discount.

Starbuck’s EMEA president, Martin Brok, said: “We saw encouraging results from the first three months of this trial with Hubbub, and what stood out to us was the positive response we had from our partners (employees) and customers who continue to push us to innovate and find ways to reduce waste.”

Around 2.5 billion paper coffee cups are thrown away annually in the UK.

Funds from the 5 pence charge will support recycling efforts across Britain, namely through behaviour change initiatives led by environmental charity Hubbub. In fact, the three-month trial saw the percentage of customers bringing in their own cup to stores increase from 2.2% before the trial to 5.8%, according to the charity.

Starbucks was also involved in Hubbub’s Square Mile Challenge, which recycled more than four million cups in London last year. A similar scheme was launched in Manchester and collected cups from both challenges were recycled into bird feeders, plant pot holders and chalkboards by product designers Ashortwalk, which has previously worked with Nextek on a recycling solution.

Starbucks is just one of the companies that formed a joint deal to accelerate the nationwide recycling of paper cups. More than 400 recycling points will be rolled out across the UK as the industry attempts to emulate the recycling success of drink cartons, which are now collected by 92% of UK local authorities through kerbside collections and recycling bank systems.

Globally, the company has committed nearly $12 million dollars to develop a fully recyclable and compostable cup and has this week pledged to eliminate single-use plastic straws from its operations by 2020.

A strawless lid for iced coffee, tea and espresso beverages has already launched across 150 stores globally. Starbucks will now introduce straws made from alternative materials, including paper or compostable plastic for certain drinks.