London Starbucks locations have initiated a process that has substantially increased the use of reusable cups. They’re charging extra for disposable cups and, at the same time, giving discounts to customers who use reusable cups.
Six weeks ago, Starbucks in 35 locations around London began charging 5p extra for disposable coffee cups. Starbucks has been in the crosshairs in recent years when it comes to conservation efforts, so the program was put in place to measure the amount of waste produced in the London area and try to find ways to reduce it. So far, the program seems to be working. Along with the 5p surcharge, the locations are also offering a 25p discount for customers using disposable cups, and so far, Starbucks has seen a 150% increase in the use of reusable cups.
All of that translates to about 5.9 percent of total customers using their own cups—that’s up from about 2.2 percent prior to the trial program. The morning hours show the most promising results, as about 8.4 percent of all the customers are using their own cups. That’s not surprising, though; most folks drink their coffee in the AM and it’s much easier to remember to bring your own cup.
This program marks a good move on the part of Starbucks to reduce their impact on the environment. The success has led them to pursue another pilot program involving the straws they provide customers. Instead of plastic straws, 54 Starbucks locations around London are experimenting with alternative materials, including paper and biodegradable plastic.
In addition, Starbucks plans to invest £7 million in developing disposable cups that are completely recyclable and compostable. However, it’s not the first time Starbucks has made that kind of promise.
At any rate, the London programs are a good sign that Starbucks is taking waste reduction seriously. The use of reusable cups is better for the environment than recycling, which isn’t really a sustainable option when it comes to long-term plans. The trial is set to last for about another month, so we’ll just have to see what the final numbers show.