Waitrose to ditch disposable cups

Nyree Stewart
10 April 2018

Supermarket chain Waitrose has committed to removing all takeaway disposable coffee cups from its shops by autumn 2018. 

Waitrose will initially remove disposable cups in nine branches from 30 April before rolling it out across all stores in a phased programme by the autumn. It says the move will save more than 52 million cups a year. 

Customers will be informed before the change comes into effect in their local shop.

Members of the supermarket’s loyalty scheme, myWaitrose, will still have the option to enjoy a free tea or coffee from their shop’s self-serve machine. However, in the coming weeks customers will be asked to bring their own reusable cup to use rather than being offered a disposable coffee cup when they go through the checkout.   

How will it affect customers?

Members of myWaitrose will no longer be able to claim their free hot drink in its 180 in-store cafes. Waitrose says this is to avoid customers without a reusable cup putting increased pressure on its hospitality areas. Instead, myWaitrose members who purchase a tea or coffee in a Waitrose cafe will be offered a choice of food options to enjoy for free or with a generous discount, which will vary each month.

The changes to its cafe service will be made from 30 April in eight of the same shops where disposable cups will be initially removed before taking effect in all branches with hospitality areas from 23 May. 

Moves to tackle the issue of disposable cups was raised by MPs in January, when the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) recommended the idea of a 25p ‘latte levy’ on non-recyclable cups of coffee. However, in March MPs rejected the idea  in favour of the established industry discounts on recyclable cups.    

This latest move continues Waitrose’s commitment to reduce its use of plastics and packaging after it recently pledged to not sell any own-label food in black plastic beyond 2019. It has also committed to make all own-label packaging widely recyclable (using the widely recycled logo), reusable, or home compostable by 2025.  

Tor Harris, head of sustainability and responsible sourcing at Waitrose, says: “We realise this is a major change, but we believe removing all takeaway disposable cups is the right thing to do for our business and are confident the majority of customers will support the environmental benefits. It underlines our commitment to plastic and packaging reduction and our aim is to deliver this as quickly as possible.”

The nine stores where the changes will take place from 30 April are: 

·      Banbury

·      Billericay  

·      Ipswich  

·      Newmarket

·      Norwich   

·      Sudbury  

·      Wymondham  

·      Upminster

·      Fitzroy Street, Cambridge - little Waitrose (This shop does not have a cafe so cafe changes do not apply here)


In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

We have very much enjoyed our free coffees at your stores and think that it is a great idea to. ask people to bring their own cups, however not a good idea to encourage people to eat more especially if the free food is going to be calorie rich.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Waitrose promotions just disappear/get worse. Time to stop shopping there now, especially when pick your own offers disappeared

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