The thing everyone is talking about. Pret are now offering 50p off every hot drink if you bring in your own re-usable cup! Meaning their filter coffee will cost you a mere 49p. Wahoo.
Over 7 MILLION coffee cups are thrown away in the UK PER DAY!!! 2.5 BILLION per year. And whilst disposable coffee cups technically can be recycled, it is actually a very very difficult process.
In fact, the majority of coffee shop cups, including the main commercial brands (Cafe Nero, Starbucks, Costa, for example), are near impossible to recycle. This is because their cups are made waterproof using a material called polyethylene, which is fused to the cardboard. Once fused, this material can – technically – be separated in specialist recycling plants. However, and here’s the catch… Only two of these plants currently exist in the UK. One in Cumbria, and one in Sheffield, meaning the majority of cups end up in landfill. Even Costa will admit to this.
As a result only 1% of disposable coffee cups in the UK are recycled.
Recently, the City of London has been testing out new ways to solve this issue. The Square Mile Challenge (#squaremilechallenge) is a recent initiative launched in April 2017. Over 100 bins where released over London with coffee cup shaped holes to help persuade people to recycle their cups. The initiative is in collaboration with Simply Cups, ‘the UK’s ONLY collection and recycling service dedicated to turning paper and plastic cups into second-life materials.’
But I think it is worth asking whether this is the best way forward. Of course, on a small scale recycling is always a better option than landfill. But to me an even better solution is not having to have a solution at all! We can tackle this problem before it has even started by encouraging more people (and coffee companies) to start using re-usable coffee cups.
Whilst Pret is in no way an angel in the plastic department (the majority of its products are still wrapped and cased in plastic), the 50p reduction is brilliant. It is great to see a large chain putting the environment/customers before profit (for once).
We can only hope that other companies start to catch on soon…