A study conducted by Cardiff University and commissioned by Dublin-based coffee and tea company Bewley’s has found that by providing reusable cups, promoting in-store messaging about waste and charging for disposable cups could reduce the use of disposable coffee cups by approximately 300 million in the UK alone.
In an announcement, Louise Whitaker, head of marketing at Bewley’s UK, said “There is a huge amount of waste being sent to landfill each year and promoting reusable cups is part of the solution”. She continued “As a company we are committed to working with our cup providers and customers to provide a solution to the problem.”
The announcement did not mention potential reductions in cost for the retailers which could potentially be passed on to consumers via price reductions. However, this is probably quite unlikely.
An estimated 2.5 billion cups are wasted every single year in the UK which contributes to around 25,000 tons of waste that could be avoided.
A real change in how coffee is served worldwide is needed to reduce this waste and this study found that a combination of charging for the use of disposable cups, marketing materials in coffee shops about waste and providing consumers with reusable cups as an alternative would be the most effective way of changing behaviours and attitudes of consumers.
“The study found that the provision of free re-usable alternatives combined with clear environmental messaging and a charge on disposable cups increased the use of reusable cups from 5.1 percent to 17.4 percent,” the Cardiff University announcement said.
The study also noted that consumers were less likely to change their behaviour by receiving discounts on reusable cups than they were by being charged fees for disposable cups.
“There is an important nuance when it comes to financial incentives,” said Cardiff Professor Wouter Poortinga. “People are far more sensitive to losses than to gains when making decisions — so if we really want to change a customer’s behaviour then a charge on a disposable cup is more likely to be effective.”
What are your thoughts on this issue? Should people be charged for using a disposable cup? Should we be provided with reusable cups for free? Let us know in the comments section.
This article was written for Cloggs Coffee Co.