Boston Tea Party becomes the first coffee chain to ban disposable coffee cups

Read Time:   |  26th April 2018

An independently owned coffee chain, Boston Tea Party, stands to lose over one million pounds in takeaway coffee sales when it bans all single-use coffee cups on 1st June this year.  

Boston Tea Party ban disposable coffee cups

Reduce and reuse 

Only 1  in 400 (0.25%) of the estimated 2.5 billion plastic coated coffee cups* used in the UK each year are recycled, and shockingly approximately 500,000, are littered every day. The rest (95.75%) go into landfill where they will take thousands of years to degrade.

In fact, many compostable alternatives also end up in landfill as there aren’t enough accessible facilities in the UK to compost them.  The team at BTP believes that the only sustainable option is to reduce and reuse rather than recycle.

Boston Tea Party 

Boston Tea Party (BTP), which has 21 cafes across the South West and the Midlands, is taking a strong stance against the amount of plastic that ends up in landfill and oceans each year by asking customers to make the move to reusable cups. Takeaway hot drinks currently account for 5.2% of Boston Tea Party’s total turnover of £19.8m, making the brave decision an admirable one as they stand to lose a number of sales with the move.

Customers will now be encouraged to bring their own reusable cups, take advantage of a cup loan scheme or buy a cup in store when disposable cups are banned in all its cafes in just over a month.

The owner and MD of BTP Sam Roberts, says: “Lots of coffee chains are making pledges about how they plan to tackle cup waste in the future.  But theirs is a future which is too far away.  We need to stop right now.  I’d stop tomorrow but I think it’s only fair to give our loyal customers and fantastic team a month to get used to the idea.”

Risk

This groundbreaking initiative is a significant risk to the business.  In July 2016, BTP was one of the first coffee chains to offer a 25p discount for customers bringing their own cups.  But this has seen just a 2.8% take up – not enough to make an environmental difference.  In asking all customers to use a reusable cup every time, Roberts and his team are taking a bold stance.

Speaking about the bold move, Roberts explains: “We want to demonstrate to other operators that to make a difference, big change is needed.  We will make this work and we’ll share details of how we’ve done it with anyone who wants our help to do the same.

“We dream of a future where our children marvel at the fact that pre-2018 we would regularly use a cup once and throw it away. The discarded cup could then take centuries to decompose. When you consider it in those terms, it really is senseless.”


References

  • *2011 Which Report – https://conversation.which.co.uk/food-drink/recycling-disposable-coffee-cups-starbucks/
  • * 2017 https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmenvaud/657/657.pdf

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