Boston Tea Party bans single use coffee cups

Sam Roberts -
Boston Tea Party bans single use coffee cups

Here at BTP, we want to show the world that it is possible to grow a brilliant, honest and profitable café business without compromising what we stand for, that has a positive impact on the people, communities and world around it.

The last but arguably most important element of our 13 point manifesto is ‘We dream of a better world; we want BTP to make a positive contribution’. We’ve always seen this as a journey, one where we seek to find the right balance between ensuring we take sustainable ethical decisions and ensuring we have a sustainable business.

Now, like many people, we’re finding the world’s relationship with plastic increasingly uncomfortable, so we’ve been making some small changes of late, by taking steps to ensure we reduce the number of single-use plastics we give to our customers.

  • We’ve switched to paper straws, removing them from our counters and only giving these with drinks where we feel people really need them.
  • We’ve switched our plastic water bottles to glass ones from the brilliant Bristol based Frank Water. They made the brave decision to stop selling any water in plastic bottles last year, resulting in a 35% reduction in their sales over night. Hearing that, we had to give them our business.

Many businesses would class these moves as big, but as important as they are we feel they’re long overdue.

For me, the really big question is what our industry does about take away coffee cups?

Only 1 in 400 (0.25%) of the estimated 2.5 billion plastic coated coffee cups* used in the UK each year are recycled. 4%, approximately 500,000, are littered every day. The rest (95.75%) go into landfill. Many compostable alternatives also end up in landfill as there aren’t enough accessible facilities in the UK to compost them.

So the simple, unavoidable truth is that the only truly ethically solution is a reusable cup instead of a single use one.

To encourage this, we offered a 25p discount to people bringing their own coffee cup to takeaway. Happily, our competitors have followed suit. However, the take up of this offer is painfully low, at around 3% of those taking hot drinks away.

Many operators might well be secretly happy with this, as offering a sizable discount on a much larger % of takeaway drinks would prove very expensive indeed.

We, however, are NOT.

Which is why, from 1st June, Boston Tea Party are banning disposable coffee cups in our cafes.

Instead, you’ll need to bring your own cup. We’ve teamed up with the lovely folk at Ecoffee Cups and will be selling their cups in the cafes at a subsidised rate, or if you’ve just forgotten your own, you can grab a loan cup. We’ll make it easy as possible for you to carry on getting your usual takeaway coffee, but the onus is on all of us to change our habits and make a difference for our planet.

We want to demonstrate to other operators that to make a difference, big change is needed. We will make this work and we’ll share details of how we’ve done it with anyone who wants our help to do the same. We dream of a future where our children marvel at the fact that pre-2018 we would regularly use a cup once and throw it away. The discarded cup could then take centuries to decompose. When you consider it in those terms, it really is senseless.

Join us in our journey in #makingthingsbetter at #noexcuseforsingleuse

Got a question? Find out more about how things will work here.