Save money using recyclable coffee cups

27 July 2018

News of Starbucks’ new 5p disposable cup fee may spark a groan among coffee connoisseurs and frappe fanatics alike.

Edmund Greaves and Francesca Bloor

Despite the government’s proposed ‘latte levy’  proving unsuccessful, many coffee shops have voluntarily decided to introduce a charge on disposable cups in an attempt to reduce waste.

There are, however, some money-saving schemes that have also been introduced in order to reward environmentally-friendly customers who bring their own reusable cups. Here are the details for some of the big coffee chains:

Caffe Nero recyclable cup discount: Double reward stamps towards a free coffee

Caffe Nero doesn’t have a discount per se, but it will give you two loyalty stamps for each coffee you get in a reusable cup instead of the normal one per coffee.   

A spokesperson for Caffe Nero says: “Caffè Nero is a signatory of the 2016 Paper Cup Manifesto, a cross industry public commitment recognised by the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to increase the sustainable recovery and recycling of paper cups. We will continue to work with fellow members of the Paper Cups Recovery & Recycling Group (PCRRG) to understand and address the current issues which prevent the widespread recycling of paper cups.”

  • Flat white price with a recycled cup: Buy five flat whites with a reusable cup for an overall cost of £13.75 (£2.75 each) to get your sixth free, meaning each one effectively costs £2.30 – a 45p per-cup saving.*

Costa recyclable cup discount: 25p

Costa offers a 25p discount on all hot drinks if you provide your own cup. It states: “Through our nationwide in-store recycling scheme we have recovered over 12 million cups for recycling since February 2017.

“To encourage our customers to use reusable cups we already offer a 25p discount, which we will be further promoting this year.”

  • Flat white saving: £2.45 discounted from £2.70.*

Department of Coffee and Social Affairs recyclable cup discount: 10%

Department of Coffee is a small chain with shops based in several major UK cities. Typically its prices are higher than those of the big chains as it serves ‘speciality coffee’ – or coffee with a higher quality grade than is typical for bigger competitors.

It gives customers a 10% discount if they bring in their own cup.

  • Flat white price with a recycled cup: £2.70 discounted from £3.*

Pret a Manger recyclable cup discount: 50p

Pret offers a 50p discount on hot drinks for those who bring in a reusable cup. This came about after Pret’s chief executive, Clive Schlee, tweeted in November 2017: “How do we encourage customers to bring reusable coffee cups to @Pret? We’re thinking of increasing the discount for bringing your own cup from 25p to 50p. Our organic filter coffee would cost just 49p. I’d love to hear your thoughts.” Based on the feedback he got, Pret boosted its discount.

  • Flat white price with a recycled cup: £1.95 discounted from £2.45.*

Starbucks recyclable cup discount: 25p

Way back in 1998 Starbucks introduced a 10p discount for those bringing reusable cups, which was raised to 25p in 2008. In 2016, it trialled a 50p discount but a spokesperson for Starbucks says the scheme wasn’t a success: “We found that this did not move the needle in the way we thought it might.”

As of July 2018, Starbucks has introduced a 5p charge for customers who buy their drink in a disposable takeaway cup, instead of bringing in a reusable one. The decision followed a trial in 35 London stores, which saw a 126% increase in customers bringing their reusable cups and claiming the 25p discount.

  • Flat white price with a recycled cup: £2.40 discounted from £2.70.

*Prices based on visiting a central London branch. 

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