Of all the harmful waste that is generated in the food and beverage sector, disposable packaging material, as well as cutlery and crockery, constitute a major part. And with environment-friendly practices taking the industry by storm, it comes as a welcome surprise that popular British supermarket chain, Waitrose, is planning to remove all disposable cups from its cafes, starting this autumn.The move is aimed at reducing plastic and packaging waste. Moreover, bidding adieu to disposable cups will help Waitrose save more than 52 million cups a year, and that’s just across the UK.
As per the parliamentary environmental audit committee’s recent report, the UK throws away 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups each year. And contrary to popular belief, these ‘paper cups’ are not entirely recyclable by regular systems because they are made from cardboard with a tightly bonded polyethylene liner, which is difficult to remove. As a result, only one in 400 cups is recycled. In light of this mounting issue, environmentalists are heavily lauding Waitrose’s move, given the grocery chains reach and market standing.
What About The Customers?
So, how will customers cope? Well, that is something even the grocery chain is going to find out by trial and error. For starters, the myWaitrose loyalty scheme members will be asked to avail their free tea or coffee from the stores’ self-service machines in refillable cups. In alternate scenarios where such refillable cups are not available, members, who’ll buy a tea or coffee in a cafe, will get a choice of food options that will be given to them free or with a substantial discount.
“We realize this is a major change, but we believe removing all takeaway disposable cups is the right thing to do for our business and are confident the majority of customers will support the environmental benefits,” Tor Harris, head of sustainability and responsible sourcing at Waitrose, was quoted as saying. “It underlines our commitment to plastic and packaging reduction, and our aim is to deliver this as quickly as possible”, he added.
During the trial period, Waitrose cafes will start doing away with the non-recyclable cups from nine stores in Banbury, Billericay, Ipswich, Newmarket, Norwich, Sudbury, Wymondham, Upminster in London, and Fitzroy Street in Cambridge. This initial trial will start from 30th April before going nationwide in a multi-phase structure.