Pret a Manger introduces reusable coffee cup discount to all stores

All Pret a Manger shops in the UK will now offer a 25p discount off hot drinks when customers bring a reusable cup, following the success of a three month scheme in London Pret stores. Pret will join Starbucks in offering a reusable cup discount with hopes to decrease the amount of waste coffee cups thrown away.

As part of their sustainability strategy, Pret is aiming to make waste useful and use fewer resources in consumable products, such as takeaway coffee. Instead of contributing to the estimated 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups thrown away in the UK each year, the coffee retailer hopes the discount will divert consumers towards using a more environmentally friendly method of consuming takeaway coffee.

Pret’s Brand Director, Caroline Cromar, said: “We have been really encouraged by the response to the trial, and as a result, are delighted to now be rolling the discount out to all Pret shops around the UK.

“We’re really pleased to see the uptake the incentive has had in our London shops so far. It’s one small step we can take to encouraging a reduction in paper cup usage across the UK.”

Instead of focusing on reduction, some chains such as Costa have been targeting the waste cups and devising better methods to make recycling them more accessible, by providing recycling stations in stores.

The cups are notoriously difficult to recycle as they have a complex structure that combines paper with a plastic coating. Whilst some have chosen to focus on improving accessibility of recycling disposable cups, others, such as Pret, have taken steps to reduce the amount of disposable coffee cups being used in the first place. Research commissioned by coffee manufacturer Bewley’s and conducted by Cardiff University into the issue of coffee cup waste tested the effectiveness of a series of measures to increase the use of reusable cups. The study found that imposing a charge on disposable cups and therefore encouraging customers to bring a reusable cup would be more effective in reducing disposable cup sales than introducing a reusable cup discount.

Author of the study, Cardiff University’s Professor Poortinga said: “There is an important nuance when it comes to financial incentives. People are far more sensitive to losses than gains when making decisions – so if we really want to change a customer’s behaviour, then a charge on a disposable cup is more likely to be effective.”

Earlier this year the Liberal Democrats proposed a five pence disposable cup tax to replicate the success of the 2015 plastic bag charge and cut down on the amount of disposable cups that are thrown away in the UK. However, this proposal was rejected by the government.

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