Five per cent of Glasgow residents always use their own reusable cup when buying drinks on-the-go, according to new data sent to Footprint.
Keep Scotland Beautiful’s research showed that 73% of people in Glasgow drink from single-use cups, with only 12% of them managing to recycle the cups properly. However, a further breakdown showed that 5% always use their own cup and 14% usually use their own cup.
It is estimated that 95m single-use cups are used every year in the city.
To improve recycling rates, Keep Scotland Beautiful’s “Cup movement campaign” has partnered with Costa, Starbucks, McDonald’s, and Pret to showcase their existing in-store cup recycling facilities, which are available for any cup no matter where it was purchased.
Recycling of paper cups has improved in the past two years, but the overall UK rate is 4%, according to industry estimates. Some campaigners believe the actual rate could be far lower due to poor recycling infrastructure for on-the-go packaging.
Indeed, a new report published by Footprint Intelligence – and presented at the Tidy Britain All-Party Parliamentary Group meeting in Westminster earlier this month – showed how the market for food-to-go has grown rapidly in the past few years, but this has coincided with a reduction in high street “binfrastructure”. Just 42% of councils now offer on-the-go recycling, which is also often heavily contaminated.
The report, The Future of foodservice packaging, recommended more research to help understand what happens to on-the-go packaging: how far are people going and when do they need a bin, for example? Paper cup manufacturers called for a “recycling superhighway” for on-the-go packaging.
However, some campaigners said the focus needed to be on reusables, in particular deposit and return schemes. Cups would be an obvious place to start. The #TakeItBack initiative in Glasgow will also highlight that using a reusable cup is “the best option” for reducing cup waste with customers being encouraged to #ChooseToReuse.
The figures from Glasgow suggest reusables are becoming more popular. The introduction of a mandatory charge on disposable cups in Scotland is expected to boost uptake further – by as much as 20% to 30%, according to some researchers.
Starbucks’ 5p charge increased the proportion of drinks sold in reusables from around 2% to almost 6%. Larger charges can result in more significant increases – and without impacting on sales. A Footprint investigation this year showed how a 25p surcharge on all hot drinks in disposable cups sold in Parliament cut monthly sales of these cups from 58,000 to 15,000 with no negative impact on overall sales as people switched to reusables of china mugs.
Meanwhile, trials this year led by Zero Waste Scotland revealed that four public sector catering locations which replaced discounts for reusable cups with clear, equivalent charges for disposable cups significantly increased (by 50% on average) the proportion of customers switching to reusables for on-the-go coffee and tea. Other global trials have also shown that charging separately for disposables increased numbers choosing reusables.