February has been a huge month for recycling news and progress. As well as previously reporting on the plans to introduce a Norwegian style recycling system, this month’s roundup contains details of the new 5p charge for takeaway drinks at Starbucks and the reason why paper straws have appeared in the nation’s favourite pubs…
Starbucks trials a 5p takeaway cup charge in London
Each day, half a million coffee cups are dropped as litter in the UK, and only 1 in 400 are properly recycled, due to their polyethylene liners being difficult to remove. These revelations have led to MPs calling for disposable cups to be banned by 2023, with Starbucks making the first move towards cutting down numbers by introducing a 5p charge on takeaway cups in 35 London branches.
Previous efforts have shown that this type of charge really does work in decreasing plastic usage. The number of single-use plastic bags in England plummeted by more than 85% in the first year after the introduction of a 5p charge in October 2015. Furthermore, Starbucks’ own research prior to implementing the charge found that almost half of consumers would rather carry a reusable cup (and receive a 25p discount) than pay the extra 5p.
The trial is set to last three months and proceeds from the charge will be donated to the environmental charity Hubbub. UK retailers are already starting to see a rise in sales of reusable coffee cups, whilst Pret a Manger has doubled its discount to 50p on all hot drinks bought by customers with reusable cups.
Wetherspoons ban plastic straws in favour of biodegradable paper straws
As of last month, all 900 JD Wetherspoon pubs across the UK have removed single-use plastic straws from their drinks. The ban is designed to prevent 70 million plastic straws going to landfill or ending up in the world’s oceans each year.
In their place, the chain is offering customers biodegradable paper straws, which will be available by choice instead of being automatically added to drinks.
The new rules have coincided with a statement from the Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, regarding banning single-use plastic straws outright in the UK. According to the Marine Conservation Society, an estimated 8.5 billion straws are used in Britain every year, with plastic straws one of the most common items found during beach clean-ups.