Boston Tea Party: coffee chain becomes first to ban disposable cups

‘We need to stop right now,’ says company’s owner ahead of total ban on takeaway cups

Disposable coffee cups
(Image credit: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Independent coffee shop chain Boston Tea Party has become the first in the UK to ban disposable cups.

From 1 June, its 21 branches in south-west England and the Midlands will no longer offer single-use cups.

Customers who want to consume their beverage elsewhere will either have to provide their own reusable cups, purchase one with their order or “loan” one from the store for a returnable deposit.

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The company had experimented with other measures to reduce the 300,000 disposable cups it was handing out every year, but their effect had been limited.

“Customers were previously offered a 25p discount on drinks if they brought their own cup, but only 2.8% of people took up the offer,” the BBC reports.

The move is likely to reduce the £1m the company brings in annually from takeaway hot drink sales, but Boston Tea Party owner Sam Roberts said drastic action was necessary and that he would have preferred to implement the change ever sooner.

“I'd stop tomorrow but I think it's only fair to give our loyal customers and fantastic team a month to get used to the idea,” he told The Independent.

Around 2.5 billion disposable cups are thrown away in the UK every year, but a lack of recycling facilities able to cope with their plastic content means that only 0.25% are successfully recycled.

Earlier this year, ministers floated the idea of a 25p “latte levy” on disposable coffee cups to encourage customers to invest in reusable cups, while Costa has announced an incentive scheme for waste collectors with the aim of recycling 500,000 cups per year by 2020.

“Lots of coffee chains are making pledges about how they plan to tackle cup waste in the future,” Roberts. “But theirs is a future which is too far away. We need to stop right now.”

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