A group of independent coffee shops has called on major chains to offer more sustainable cups.
To mark the start of London Coffee Festival, nine companies have signed an open letter in which they described the need for coffee giants like Starbucks to lead the way in the fight against plastic waste.
The move comes after Waitrose announced it would phase out disposable coffee cups in stores by autumn, and new figures revealed that NHS trusts in England get through millions of cups every year.
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London shops including Timberyard Seven Dials, Chief Coffee and Stir have called on their major rivals to step up their game and help combat plastic pollution.
“As members of the coffee retail community, we want to tackle this crisis,” they wrote.
“Until the major players in our market invest in more sustainable solutions, there will be little systemic change.”
Ways to reduce your single-use plastic
Ways to reduce your single-use plastic
1/6 Plastic water bottle for a reusable beverage container
Instead of continually buying drinks in plastic bottles you can switch to a reusable beverage container and reduce your single-use of plastics. Selfridges' Bobble 550ml filtered water bottle costs £12.95 and includes a replaceable carbon filter that filters water as you drink, removing chlorine and organic contaminants in the process. You can buy it from selfridges.com
2/6 Coffee cup for a Travel coffee mug
It is estimated that the UK throws away around 2.5bn disposable coffee cups a year and almost all are incinerated, exported or sent to landfill because their plastic lining makes them expensive to recycle. The new Latte Levy in the UK means there will now be a 25p charge on every disposable coffee cup bought by consumers. Pret A Manger announced that it will double its discount to 50p in an effort to reduce waste. By swapping to a reusable cup you will be able to help cut the cost of disposable coffee cups. This Keep Cup Brew, cork edition, travel cup in Fika is just one of the many available to purchase. It fits under most commercial coffee machines, is splash-proof and ideal for transporting your coffee whilst on the go. You can buy this particular cup for £19.99 from trouva.com.
3/6 Plastic bags for reusable cloth bags
An eco-friendly alternative to an ordinary plastic bag is this lightweight shopping bag. It comes with a practical pillowcase pocket and features a black and white ink splatter design. Convenient and durable it also has a matte black spring clip to attach it where you need it. You can buy this from paperchase.co.uk for just £5.00.
4/6 Coffee pods for a pot of coffee
Cut your plastic coffee pod usage with a cafetiere. This Barista and Co, 3 Cup Gold Cafetiere, from Habitat offers a simple way to brew and serve in style. Made from borosilicate glass and plated stainless steel with an ergonomically designed handle, the cafetiere is built to last and a pleasure to use; a fine metal filter produces a smooth coffee that retains its natural oils. You can buy it for £30 from habitat.co.uk.
5/6 Balloons for eco-friendly decorations
Instead of using plastic balloons at your party try swapping them for some eco-friendly bunting. Handmade in Scotland, the bunting comprises thirteen brightly coloured pennants which spell out the words 'Happy Birthday', and uses lettering that has been printed onto 100 per cent recycled card. Included is 11ft of natural jute twine to hang the pennants on, and everything comes packaged in a cello bag. You can buy this bunting from Little Silverleaf on notonthehighstreet.com for £12.50.
6/6 Plastic straw for a reusable bamboo one
Swap plastic straws for reusable ones made of bamboo. These straws are handmade in Bali and crafted by local balinese artisans. Made of organic and natural materials they are the best eco-friendly alternative to plastic, steel or glass straws. You can purchase them from Bali Boo on Amazon.co.uk for £13.99.
Starbucks recently pledged £7m to develop a “fully recyclable and compostable” cup, following a campaign by a coalition of environmental charities.
While their pledge was welcomed by campaigners, they emphasised the need for continued pressure on major companies to ensure they make the switch away from the current plastic-lined cups – the majority of which are not recycled.
“Major coffee chains like Starbucks earn billions in revenue each year,” the independent companies continued in their letter.
“They must all invest some of that money in developing a recyclable cup and a plan to reduce disposable cup use – this will provide a template for others to follow.
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Specifically, the companies called on coffee giants to make greater public efforts to encourage the use of reusable cups, and to make good on promises to bring in fully recyclable paper cups.
The Independent’s Cut the Cup Waste campaign has been pushing for action from businesses and government to work towards better solutions to the problem of disposable coffee cup waste.
“The tide is turning on plastic. Consumers and small businesses don’t want to feed the crisis in our oceans and waterways, and are increasingly taking steps to change their own behaviour,” said Sondhya Gupta, senior campaigner at SumOfUs, which backed the open letter.
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“But the biggest change needs to come from those who built and profit from this throwaway culture. Chains like Starbucks and Costa need to show consumers a comprehensive plan for cutting their plastic pollution, and the government needs to create laws to encourage this.”
Pressure has been growing to deal with disposable cup waste since a report by the Environmental Audit Committee revealed the scale of the problem.
Though the government has considered the introduction of a “latte levy” – a 25p tax on all takeaway coffee cups – it has recently shied away from such a measure.
A poll by The Independent found that the majority of the British public would support such a charge, and both ministers and environmental groups have thrown their support behind it.