By Lauren Howells

Starbucks has launched a pioneering 5p paper cup charge trial across 35 of its London stores, in order to discover if it will encourage people to use reusable cups and cut back on waste.

Customers of the shops taking part in the trial, which include Starbucks branches in the City and the West End, will have to pay a 5p surcharge if they want to use a single-use paper cup.

Starbucks says that its baristas will offer all customers who are drinking in store, the option to have their drink in a ceramic cup.

Nearly half (48%) of people would rather carry reusable cups

Research commissioned by Starbucks found that nearly half (48%) of people would carry a reusable cup, rather than paying the 5p charge for a paper cup on top of the price of their normal cup of coffee.

The UK uses around 2.5 billion single-use coffee cups every year.

The trial, which is being carried out in conjunction with environmental charity and behaviour change experts, Hubbub, will run for three months.

Charge will remind customers to rethink their use of single-use plastic-lined cups

Simon Redfern, VP of communications, Starbucks Europe said:

We’re hoping that this charge will remind customers to rethink their use of single-use plastic-lined cups, as it has with plastic bags. We’ve offered a reusable cup discount for 20 years, with only 1.8% of customers currently taking up this offer, so we’re really interested in working with Hubbub to see how this charge could help to change behaviour and help to reduce waste”.

A similar 5p plastic bag charge in England reportedly decreased the number of single-use plastic bags used by shoppers by more than 85%.

Single-use coffee cups difficult to recycle

Starbucks trialling "pioneering" 5p paper cup charge

Single-use coffee cups are part of the plastic waste problem, as they have a polyethene liner which makes them extremely difficult to recycle. According to the Guardian, around half a million coffee cups are dropped as litter, per day, in the UK alone.

Concerns regarding the environmental issues associated with takeaway coffee cups have hit the headlines in recent months, with the Environmental Audit Committee recently calling on the government to introduce a 25p “latte levy” on single-use coffee cups. The committee also wants all disposable coffee cups to be recycled by 2023, with a ban on the cups put in place if this does not happen.

Starbucks has been offering its customers a reusable cup for £1 since 2014.

Proceeds will be donated to Hubbub

Starbucks has confirmed that proceeds from the 5p charge will be donated to Hubbub, who it says will help to track the impact of the trial on customer behaviour and will also use the funds “to support other innovative campaigns to reduce waste across London”.

Adding a charge more effective than money off reusable cups

Gavin Ellis, Co-Founder, Hubbub said:

Our early conversations with customers have shown an increased awareness of the need to reduce waste from single-use cups. Previous studies have shown that adding a charge on single-use cups is more effective than money off a reusable cup. We’re excited to be working on this initiative with Starbucks to find out if this is the case on the high street and to discover what else will encourage people to use reusable cups”.