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Starbucks commits to greener cups

Starbucks has partnered with environmental non-profit Hubbub to launch one of the first airport-based reusable cup trials at London’s Gatwick Airport.

The one-month trial will offer drop-off points for Starbucks reusable cups throughout the international airport’s South Terminal to help reduce paper cup waste and promote reusability.

“The purpose of working with Hubbub and Gatwick is to help create a new culture of reuse on-the-go by giving customers the option of a reusable cup instead of paper for free. We are optimistic that the Cup Check-In points around the airport will provide enough places for customers to return their cups on the way to their gate,” says Jaz Rabadia, United Kingdom Senior Manager of Energy and Sustainability at Starbucks.

“Our goal is to save 7000 disposable cups over the course of the month to find out the best ways to drive reuse where it is typically harder to do so.”

The trial aims to offer a new approach to reusability, helping customers reduce disposable cup usage within closed environments such as travel hubs. Gatwick’s waste management team will wash and sterilise the reusable cups and return it to Starbucks.

“We are looking forward to seeing how the trial goes and what we can learn to improve the solution. This trial fits well with Gatwick’s own circular economy ethos, which sees us utilise as many recovered resources as possible from within the airport estate,” says Rachel Thompson, Sustainability Lead at Gatwick Airport

After introducing a five pence charge on paper cups in 2018 to encourage reuse, Starbucks UK has donated all proceeds from the surcharge to Hubbub to carry out environmental projects and research that increase sustainable customer behaviour, including the Gatwick trial. 

“The airport is the ideal environment to trial a reusable cup scheme, as it is a closed loop environment and has the potential to reduce large volumes of paper cup waste. What we learn here will provide valuable insight into how to deploy a reusable trial in not only other airports, but many other environments,” says Trewin Restorick, Chief Exeutive Offiver and Co-Founder at Hubbub.

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