In an effort to reduce plastic waste, Waitrose (LON: JLH) has announced plans to remove disposable coffee cups by Autumn.
MyWaitrose loyalty scheme members will still have access to the free tea and coffee machines but will be asked to use a reusable cup.
Tor Harris, head of sustainability and responsible sourcing at the supermarket, said: “We realise 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.”
“It underlines our commitment to plastic and packaging reduction, and our aim is to deliver this as quickly as possible.”
Waitrose said the change would save over 52 million cups a year across the UK. The store is rolling out the changes in nine stores from 30 April before it is introduced across stores nationwide.
The UK currently disposes of 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups a year, which cannot be recycled due to their plastic lining.
The shops that will be involved in the initial trial are in Banbury, Billericay, Ipswich, Newmarket, Norwich, Sudbury, Wymondham, Upminster in London, and Fitzroy Street in Cambridge.
For the customers who do not have a reusable cup, members of the scheme will be able to will get a choice of food options for free or with a significant discount when purchasing tea or coffee in the supermarket’s cafe.
“This is a bold move by Waitrose that should be applauded,” said Trewin Restorick of the environmental charity Hubbub. “It is great to see a major retailer taking decisive action to cut waste in such a high profile part of their business.”
The move made by Waitrose comes as the government is considering a ‘latte levy’, where there will be a charge for the use of disposable cups.