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This Coffee Chain Is First to Announce a Complete Ban on Disposable Cups

Independently owned cafe chain Boston Tea Party (BTP) is the first in England to announce a total ban on single-use drinks cups. 

The ban, which will be across all 21 branches across the south west and the Midlands as well as the new BTP set to open in Chichester, will come into effect from June 1. 

According to owner and managing director Sam Roberts, a total ban on disposable cups is “the only truly ethically solution” to plastic waste. 

Take action: Call on Governments and Business Leaders to Say No to Single-Use Plastics

After the ban, customers will have the choice between bringing their own mug, buying a reusable mug in store at “non-profit-making prices,” according to the chain, or using the chain’s loan scheme — which involves paying a deposit on one they can return to any branch. 

Roberts described the chain handing out around 340,000 disposable cups a year as “senseless.”

“Lots of coffee chains are making pledges about how they plan to tackle cup waste in the future,” said Roberts. “But theirs is a future which is too far away. We need to stop right now.” 

He added that he would stop tomorrow, but, “it’s only fair to give our loyal customers and fantastic team a month to get used to the idea.” 

Read more: Outright Ban on Disposable Coffee Cups Rejected by Government

Takeaway hot drinks currently bring in about 5% of the chain’s total £19.8 million annul turnover, according to the cafe’s website.

“We dream of a future where our children marvel at the fact that pre-2018 we would regularly use a cup once and throw it away,” he said in a blog post. “The discarded cup could then take centuries to decompose. When you consider it in those terms, it really is senseless.” 

The UK gets through an estimated 2.5 billion single-use cups every year in the UK — and just one in every 400 are recycled, according to a report in January by the Environmental Audit Committee. That amasses over 30,000 tonnes of single-use cup waste every year. 

It’s difficult to recycle cups because each cup contains a tightly-bonded polyethylene liner that paper mills don’t accept. 

Read more: This Man Turned a Year's Worth of Plastic Into Art and It's Eye-Opening

The Environmental Audit Committee also made a recommendation in the report that the UK government bring in a total ban on disposable coffee cups, if the industry can't reach a 100% recycling rate, by 2023. However, the House of Commons rejected the call in March.

Many coffee chains now offer discounts to customers using disposable cups — Pret a Manger offers a 50p discount; Costa Coffee and Starbucks give a 25p discount; and Greggs gives a 20p discount. 

Meanwhile, Starbucks became the first to announce its own latte levy at the end of February, charging customers 5p in 35 London outlets for a three-month trial. 

Read more: These Are the Biggest Recycling Mistakes You're Probably Making

Waitrose supermarket has also made a pledge to stop using single-use cups by autumn, and Costa Coffee has said it will improve on recycling — pledging last week to recycle half a billion coffee cups a year by 2020, the same number of cups as it puts onto the market.

The Boston Tea Party chain has also switched to paper straws, keeping them behind the counter and handing them out when customers ask; and has swapped plastic water bottles for glass. The glass bottles come from Bristol-based Frank Water, according to BTP, which stopped selling any water in plastic bottles last year. 

Global Citizen campaigns to achieve the UN’s Global Goals, which include action on improving life on land, life below water, and creating sustainable cities and communities. You can join us by taking action by telling governments and business leaders to say no to single-use plastics here