Charging customers for disposable coffee cups could cut usage by 50 to 300 million units per year, but discounts on reusable cups will not.
That's according to research conducted by Cardiff University, on behalf of beverage company Bewley's.
Around 2.5 billion disposable cups are used in the UK annually, creating 25,000 tonnes of waste.
Financial incentives, reusable alternatives and clear messaging about the environmental impact of disposable cups can directly affect consumer behaviour.
But while a charge on disposable cups increased the use of reusable cups by 3.4%, the study found that a discount on reusable coffee cups had no impact.
Lin Dickens, marketing director, Bartlett Mitchell (the only B&I caterer to take part in the research), said: "The results of the analysis really demonstrate that the industry needs to pull together to find alternative solutions to the packaging and how they source their materials. The experiment showed that simple changes can have a significant impact. Whilst operational challenges such as washing and storing reusable cups need to be factored in, we collectively need to start making these changes immediately."
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