Starbucks is trialling a way to make you ditch paper cups once and for all

Image: Zhang Peng/LightRocket via Getty Images

Starbucks is about to get a tad more expensive for some Londoners. But, before you freak out, it’s worth noting that there’s actually a really good reason for it. 

The coffee brand has announced it will trial a 5p paper cup charge in 25 London stores in an effort to “encourage and support” the use of reusable cups. 

Per an official statement, Starbucks notes the “growing concern” about the extent of the UK’s use of single-use paper cups, which cannot currently be recycled. 

“To that end we will be exploring the impact that a cup charge may have in changing behaviour in addition to the measures we, and the whole industry, are taking on cup recycling,” reads the statement. 

Starbucks says it will begin by trialling a 5p cup charge in 20 – 25 Starbucks branches in central London for three months from February. “We will investigate the impact of a 5p charge on a paper cup, coupled with prominent marketing of reusable cups, on customer behaviour,” the statement continues. 

The move comes a week after MPs published a report urging the government to introduce a 25p (33 cents) “latte levy” on paper coffee cups in a bid to substantially reduce waste. Alarmingly, the report identified that many consumers mistakenly believe that paper coffee cups are “widely recycled.” Unfortunately, the cups’ plastic lining cannot be removed by most recycling plants. According to Mary Creagh MP, this results in 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups being thrown away each year—”enough to circle the planet five and a half times.” 

Starbucks says all money raised by its cup charge will be donated to Hubbub, an environmental charity and behaviour change expert. The money will be used to conduct a “behaviour change study” so Starbucks can “understand how the public can be encouraged to choose reusable drink containers.”

Starbucks says it will review the efficacy of the trial at the end of the 3 months before deciding on “next steps.” 

Time to buy yourself a reusable cup, folks!

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