Starbucks to trial paper cup charge in 25 London stores

Ever since we opened in the UK, 20 years ago, we have looked at ways to encourage and support the use of reusable cups.

We were first with the reusable cup incentive which we implemented in 1998 at 10p before upping it to 25p in 2008.

In 2016, as a way to heighten awareness and to promote reusability we extended the cup discount to 50p for a few months. We found that this did not move the needle in the way we thought it might. We now have 1.8% of our customers using reusable cups.

From 2014 we offered a £1 reusable cup to make it as easy as possible for customers to reuse at a very accessible price.

All that said, we recognise that there is growing concern about the number of single-use paper cups being used and that our customers are interested in ways that we can help them reduce, reuse and recycle.

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.

In order to better understand how this could work we will trial and promote a 5p cup charge in 20 - 25 central London stores. We will investigate the impact of a 5p charge on a paper cup, coupled with prominent marketing of reusable cups, on customer behaviour. We will begin the trial in February and initially it will last for three months. All the money raised by the cup charge will be donated to environmental charity and behaviour change experts, Hubbub who will use the funds to run a comprehensive behaviour change study, helping us to understand how the public can be encouraged to choose reusable drink containers which are better for the environment.

We will share our findings with any interested parties before taking a view on next steps.

At the same time, we will redouble our efforts to ensure that drink-in customers are always offered a ceramic cup, thus cutting paper use even further.

Finally, we will continue to remind customers through our in-store marketing about the ongoing 25p cup discount and the benefits of going reusable.

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