Gatwick Airport is launching the world’s first ever cup reuse trial.#CupCupandAway is the latest campaign created through the on-going partnership between Hubbub and Starbucks that is tackling single use plastic pollution. The campaign is funded by the 5p charge that Starbucks has voluntarily added to the cost of disposable cups across all their stores in Britain.

The month-long trial will provide an innovative approach helping customers to reduce disposable cup use throughout the international airport’s South Terminal. Starbucks customers will be given the option to borrow a free reusable cup for their drink instead of using a paper cup, which they can then drop off at one of five ‘Cup Check-In’ points throughout the airport before they board their flight. The option will be promoted by the Starbucks store team and reinforced through messaging at the airport and on social media.

The ‘Cup Check-In’ points will be at the airside Starbucks store with four more spread across the terminal so that travellers won’t need to go out of their way to return the cup before they board. Once collected, these cups will be washed and returned to store to begin their journey through the airport again.

Putting 2,000 reusable Starbucks cups in circulation throughout the South Terminal has the potential to dramatically reduce the number of paper cups thrown away. The trial is a significant development for Gatwick as it moves the emphasis towards reuse rather than disposal. Culturally this is a major shift as most people do not take reusable cups to airports and consequently Gatwick currently disposes of 7 million paper cups annually of which 5.3 million are recycled.

The ambition behind the trial is to help create a new culture of reuse on-the-go and explore how customers respond to dropping their cups back off to be washed and used again. The results will give a unique insight into the challenges of changing behaviour at a busy international airport. It will discover whether peoples’ concern about plastic waste can be translated into practical action if it is made easy and convenient. What is learnt will provide valuable insight into how to deploy a reusable trial in not only other airports but many other environments.

Hubbub and Starbucks will openly share the results from the trial as part of the continuing ambition to encourage a greater take-up of reusable cups. In the coming months the partnership will announce further campaigns around the UK built from pioneering cultural research that is currently being undertaken.

There is a recognition that disposable cups are still used by the majority and Starbucks is working with other major companies to design a new type of mass-market cup that is environmentally preferable to the one currently used. 

Whilst this development work is underway, Hubbub is using the funding provided by the 5p charge on Starbucks disposable cups to test new ways to promote recycling on the High Street in Leeds, Swansea and Edinburgh. We have also launched a significant new Cup Fund which will help up to 15 busy locations introduce cup recycling facilities later this year.

Finally, as a way to engage children and communities in positive clean up activities, Starbucks funding has been used to support a ‘Plastic Fishing tour’, using a boat made of recycled plastic, which has been helping remove plastics from waterways in Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester and parts of Scotland.