Pret a Manger doubles discount for bringing reusable coffee cups

Chain will now knock 50p off prices in bid to help change customers’ habits, with the UK discarding an estimated 2.5bn coffee cups every year

Customers who bring reusable cups to Pret a Manger will be given a 50p discount on hot drinks after the company introduced the measure and said it was hoping to change people’s habits and reduce waste.

The sandwich chain has been offering 25p discounts to customers using reusable cups since 2017, alongside Costa and Starbucks. CEO Clive Schlee said he hoped that doubling the discount would make a difference, following other initiatives to reduce waste such as not using plastic cup stoppers in inner city Pret shops.

On Tuesday, Schlee tweeted: “I’m delighted you can now get 50p off a hot drink when you bring your reusable cup to Pret. I hope this will make a difference.”

Last month he said the company was considering the move “to help change habits. It’s well known that ‘reduce’ is better than ‘recycle’.”

Customers in one Pret shop in Kings Cross said they liked the idea and would consider bringing in their own reusable cups, while a barista said many people opt for reusable cups already with the current 25p discount. “In the mornings, most people coming in use their own reusable cups,” he said.

Each year, the UK throws away an estimated 2.5bn coffee cups, almost 5,000 a minute. While these cups are recyclable fewer than one in 400 of them are because of difficulties in separating their plastic and paper parts.

A government report has also found that red tape in the waste industry often gets in the way of effective recycling. Researchers suggested charging customers for using paper cups to reduce waste but Schlee says Pret decided against it as “it goes against our instincts as we would prefer to be generous to our customers than to tax them”.

Chancellor Philip Hammond signalled that taxes or charges could be levied on single-use plastics to help the UK lead the way on tackling “the scourge” littering the environment in his November budget statement.

It comes amid rising concern about the problem of plastic waste in the oceans, harming and killing wildlife and entering the food chain, highlighted most recently in the BBC’s Blue Planet II documentary series.

It follows the introduction of a 5p charge on single-use plastic carrier bags, which is credited with driving down how many are used by 85%, and calls to bring in charges on items ranging from plastic drinks bottles to disposable coffee cups.

Sara Luxmoore and agency

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