Gatwick hosts UK's first airport reusable coffee cup trial

Customers buying coffee from South Terminal Starbucks will be able to borrow free refillable cup

The UK’s first airport reusable coffee cup trial gets under way this week at Gatwick, offering passengers the opportunity to borrow and return refillable cups in a bid to help cut waste and tackle “throwaway” culture.

Customers buying hot takeaway drinks from Starbucks will have the option to borrow a free reusable cup instead of using a paper cup, which they can then drop off at a designated point before boarding their flight.

A sign will remind passengers to return their cup before they board a flight
A sign will remind passengers to return their cup before they board a flight Photograph: PR

The trial – starting on Monday in Gatwick’s South Terminal – will help customers reduce their disposable cup usage in a manageable “closed loop” environment that could be used in any travel hub. The scheme is being launched by Starbucks in partnership with the environmental charity Hubbub with support from Gatwick, the UK’s second largest airport.

The use of reusable cups in all coffee chains has increased in the UK – thanks to incentives such as discounts – but anecdotal evidence suggests consumers tend not to bring the cups with them when they’re going on holiday.

The aim of the trial is to put 2,000 reusable Starbucks cups in circulation throughout Gatwick’s South Terminal, which could drastically reduce the number of paper cups being used each day. If only 250 customers opted for a reusable cup each day, for example, more than 7,000 paper cups could be saved in one month.

“We know people care about waste, but it’s often hard to do the right thing when travelling” said Trewin Restorick, the chief executive and co-founder of Hubbub. “We want to find out whether people will get onboard with reusing cups, if we make it easy and convenient. The airport is the ideal environment to trial a reusable cup scheme as it has the potential to reduce large volumes of paper cup waste.”

An estimated 2.5bn disposable coffee cups are used in the UK each year, a large proportion ending up in landfill. At Gatwick, more than 5.3m of the 7m paper cups used each year are already being recycled but Starbucks and Hubbub have identified the potential to increase reusable cup options as well to limit the number of cups used in travel hubs where on-the-go packaging is prevalent.

Rachel Thompson, the sustainability lead at Gatwick, said: “There is strong public support for measures to reduce waste and we are delighted to support a retailer with an innovation that can help travellers do that.”

The test is part of Starbucks’ and Hubbub’s ongoing commitment to reducing paper cup waste. In July last year, the coffee company became the first to introduce a 5p charge on paper cups to encourage reuse, with all proceeds going to Hubbub to carry out environmental projects and research, such as the Gatwick trial.

Contributor

Rebecca Smithers Consumers affairs correspondent

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
MPs call for 25p charge on takeaway coffee cups ahead of possible ban
In UK 2.5bn disposable cups are thrown away each year, of which less than 0.25% are recycled, according to environmental audit committee report

Sandra Laville

05, Jan, 2018 @6:01 AM

Article image
Starbucks introduces 'latte levy' of 5p on single-use paper cups
Coffee giant first in UK to add charge in bid to cut overuse of 2.5bn disposable cups a year

Rebecca Smithers Consumer affairs correspondent

10, Jul, 2018 @10:32 AM

Article image
Starbucks trials 5p takeaway cup charge in attempt to cut waste
People buying hot drinks in cardboard cups in 35 London branches will pay ‘latte levy’

Rebecca Smithers Consumer affairs correspondent

26, Feb, 2018 @7:26 AM

Article image
Better latte than never … compostable coffee pods go on sale
Lavazza launch comes amid rising concern over where 20bn single-serve plastic pods end up

Rebecca Smithers

04, Nov, 2019 @6:01 AM

Article image
UK's plastic waste may be dumped overseas instead of recycled
Millions of tons of plastic sent abroad for recycling may be being dumped in landfill

Nazia Parveen North of England correspondent

22, Jul, 2018 @11:01 PM

Article image
Starbucks introduces reusable cups

Coffee chain says £1 cups will encourage customers to cut waste and save them money on every order

Rebecca Smithers, consumer affairs correspondent

19, Apr, 2013 @5:30 AM

Article image
Will a 25p charge change Britain's throwaway coffee cup culture?
On a busy Guildford high street reaction to the proposed ‘latte levy’ is mixed. While many welcome the move to change peoples’ habits, for some, already feeling the squeeze of a weak pound, the 25p hit is too high

Sandra Laville

05, Jan, 2018 @11:31 AM

Article image
Anya Hindmarch returns to the checkouts with ‘next generation reusable shopping bag’
British designer’s tote bag to go on sale at Sainsbury’s and Waitrose in new bid to tackle single-use plastic

Karen Dacre

12, Nov, 2021 @11:37 AM

Article image
Walkers answers critics with launch of UK crisp packet recycling plan
Manufacturer to collect and repurpose packaging after campaign against firm’s waste

Rebecca Smithers

05, Oct, 2018 @3:59 PM

Article image
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 going through an estimated 2.5bn coffee cups every year

Sara Luxmoore and agency

02, Jan, 2018 @6:46 PM