Starbucks UK tests first-ever paper cup charge

Today, Starbucks announces the launch of a pioneering 5p paper cup charge trial in 35 stores* across the city, west end, and west London, to evaluate whether customers will reduce their use of single-use paper cups.

The proceeds from the 5p charge will be donated to environmental charity and behaviour change experts, Hubbub. Hubbub will help to track the impact of this three-month trial cup charge on customer behaviour, helping to reduce waste and encourage the use of reusable cups. Hubbub will also use the funds to support other innovative campaigns to reduce waste across London. 

Starbucks-commissioned research found that almost half (48%) of people surveyed said they would carry a reusable cup, saving money and reducing waste. Since 2014, Starbucks has offered a £1 reusable cup to make it as easy as possible for customers to reuse at an accessible price.

Throughout the three months, 5p will automatically be added on to any paper cup purchase in these 35 stores. To further reduce waste, baristas will also ensure all customers drinking in store are offered their drink in a ceramic cup.

Simon Redfern, vp communications, Starbucks Europe said “We’re hoping that this charge will remind customers to rethink their use of single-use plastic-lined cups, as it has with plastic bags. We’ve offered a reusable cup discount for 20 years, with only 1.8% of customers currently taking up this offer, so we’re really interested in working with Hubbub to see how this charge could help to change behaviour and help to reduce waste.”

Gavin Ellis, Co-Founder, Hubbub said: “Our early conversations with customers have shown an increased awareness of the need to reduce waste from single-use cups. Previous studies have shown that adding a charge on single-use cups is more effective than money off a reusable cup. We’re excited to be working on this initiative with Starbucks to find out if this is the case on the high street and to discover what else will encourage people to use reusable cups.”

*Full list of participating stores: