Starbucks today announces that it will test a 5p paper cup charge across all 950 stores in Britain from Thursday 26th July, following a three-month trial in London. Proceeds from the charge will be used by Hubbub to fund a range of innovative campaigns to reduce plastic pollution across the UK.

The charge will see all stores in Britain add 5p on to the cost of any drink purchased in a paper cup in a bid to further encourage customers to bring in a reusable cup. Customers using reusable cups already receive a longstanding 25p discount off any Starbucks drink, aimed at reducing paper cup waste. The announcement comes after positive trial results showed a 126% uplift in the use of reusable cups in participating stores, measured by the number of customers redeeming the reusable 25p cup discount.

Hubbub worked with Starbucks throughout the three-month trial to evaluate the impact of the change on customer behaviour. The full report is available here (PDF Download). It showed that the average percentage of total hot beverages served in reusable cups increased in the 35 trial stores from 2.2% before the trial to 5.8%.

The results indicate that a nationwide roll out of a 5p charge with supporting instore communications and staff training could have a significant impact on reducing paper cup use.

In addition to reducing paper cup consumption the funds raised will enable Hubbub to rapidly expand a range of campaigns to further reduce plastic pollution. Funding will initially be directed in three areas:

  1. A growth in community based campaigns to further cut the use of disposable cups and to increase the amount of recycling facilities for single use cups. These campaigns will build on the success of the Square Mile Challenge that has already recycled over 5 million cups from the heart of London.
  2. An expansion of activities to reduce the amount of plastics entering our waterways. This will include an expansion of Plastic Fishing and new creative behaviour change campaigns building on the impact of For Fish’s Sake (#FFS).
  3. New trials to boost the amount of recycling facilities for food and drinks containers used whilst people are on the move. The first will be launched in Leeds in September.

Hubbub is delighted to be partnering with Starbucks on this progressive and bold expansion of the paper cup charge.  We will continue to measure the impact of the campaign and openly report on how the funds generated are making a real difference on plastic pollution across the country.  

We hope that other companies will follow Starbucks lead and that DEFRA will use the results of the trial to inform the development on future policies to meet their ambition to phase out unnecessary single use plastics.

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