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Starbucks to charge British customers for using paper cups

Anmar Frangoul
  • Starbucks is to test a 5 pence paper cup charge at all 950 of its coffeehouses in Britain.
  • At the beginning of this week, Starbucks announced plans to eliminate single-use plastic straws from all stores by 2020.

Starbucks SBUX is to test a 5 pence (7 cent) paper cup charge at all 950 of its coffeehouses in Britain.

The levy will be introduced on July 26 and comes after a three-month trial at Starbucks locations in London, the coffee giant said in a statement Tuesday. Currently, Starbucks customers who purchase drinks using reusable cups receive a 25 pence discount.

For the London trial, Starbucks worked with environmental charity Hubbub, which produced a report on how the charge affected customer behavior. That analysis showed that the percentage of customers bringing in their own cup grew from 2.2 percent before the trial to 5.8 percent during it.

Starbucks said that the results indicated that a national rollout of the 5 pence charge — alongside in-store communication and staff training — would have an impact on cutting the use of paper cups.

“We saw encouraging results from the first three months of this trial with Hubbub, and what stood out to us was the positive response we had from our partners (employees) and customers, who continue to push us to innovate and find ways to reduce waste,” Martin Brok, president of Starbucks Europe, Middle East and Africa, said in a statement.

“Extending this to all our stores across Britain is an exciting step and we’re hoping this charge will remind customers to rethink their use of single-use plastic as it has with plastic bags.”

At the beginning of this week, Starbucks laid out plans for eliminating single-use plastic straws from all of its stores by 2020, joining a growing list of big businesses looking to reduce their use of plastic.

In June, for example, McDonald’s MCD said it would move away from using plastic straws in its U.K. and Ireland restaurants. The business said a phased rollout of paper straws in all 1,361 of its sites in the two countries would begin in September and be completed by 2019.

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