Levying a Fee on Disposable Cups Can Influence Coffee Lovers to Use Reusables

coffee cup

A new study conducted by Cardiff University suggests that charging coffee drinkers for their disposable cups can help reduce their use by about 300 million per year. It is estimated that nearly 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups are used in the UK every year. According to one report, the global disposable cups market was valued at $12 billion in 2016 and is projected to grow steadily at 5.9% CAGR.

The research by Cardiff University lays down a few simple steps which can help in reducing the 25,000 tonnes of waste that is generated in the UK on account of disposable cups.

The recommendations include reusable alternatives and clear messaging aimed at raising awareness among consumers about the impact of their actions. In their study, the researchers found that charging for disposable cups led to increased sales of reusables. The three key takeaways from Cardiff University’s research on disposable coffee cups include,

  • Charging for disposable cups can reduce demand
  • Re-usable cups can create an alternative for consumers
  • Appealing to consumers’ conscience with environmental messaging can alter behaviour

The author of the study, Professor Wouter Poortinga, said the study demonstrated how implementation of simple methods could transform consumer behaviour. If the recommendations of the study are being employed by the British Government, it can help deal with the massive waste problem.

A key finding of the study was the financial incentive did not promote the use of re-usable as the prospect of a fee on using disposables. So, levying a fee on using disposable was found to be far more effective than giving discounts on re-usable.

The British government has, in the past, turned down pleas to levy a fee on the use of disposables. UK’s environment minister is of the opinion that coffee chain owners were already doing enough voluntarily to cut down demand for disposables.

All around the UK, initiatives are being taken to promote environmental conservation. In January this year, Guardian reported that a new scheme had been launched to boost the recycling of disposable coffee cups. The City of London Corporation, in cooperation with several volunteers, was planning to put up recycling facilities all over London

The move to curb the use of disposable is already gaining traction as French bakery Paul has announced discounted prices for those consumers who bring in their own coffee cup. Paul will be offering customers 10p discount if they bring their own coffee cup. In a similar move, sandwich chain Pret a Manger is launching a trial move and offering 25p to customers bringing their own cup.

About the Author

Suyog Keluskar

Suyog Keluskar is an experienced Market Research, Customer Insights & Consulting professional, covering latest industry and market updates on Electronics, Semiconductor and ICT domain. With over ten years of experience in business/market research, Suyog delivers customer-centric assignments in market-entry, market expansion, partner identification, competition analysis, market sizing, industry insights and customer intelligence studies. When Suyog is not busy unraveling the consumer mind or unearthing market potential he can be found traveling the road less traveled with a fascinating book on contemporary history in his hand. An avid cricket fan, music lover and you will also find him discussing politics with his friends and peers more often.

3 thoughts on “Levying a Fee on Disposable Cups Can Influence Coffee Lovers to Use Reusables

  1. The Cardiff Study was interesting, but would like to know how many units were involved, and where were they positioned, as if it was just the capus cafe it may be a slightly slanted result.
    The number of schemes to both reduce usage of cups, and the collection of paper cups seems to be growing every day.

    1. Hi Mark. Yes, the Cardiff Study seems to have garnered a lot of media attention. While researching on the original study, I came across the actual study. Due to Disqus policy, I can’t paste the link, but a Google search on “Cardiff University Disposable Cups Study” will take you to their findings. Hope this helps!

      1. Rahul, many thanks for the pointer, think a sample of 12 units, where 9 are on university campus may not give a fair reflection of national response to these schemes.

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