Reducing Disposable Coffee Cup Use Is Easy

As many as 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups are thrown away every year, and coffee giant Bewley’s is doing what it can to make that change.

In a recent program Bewley’s experimented with ways to change consumer behavior, and they discovered some promising solutions to wasteful consumer habits. When a financial incentive was given to encourage the use of durable coffee cups that could be re-used, many coffee drinkers chose to take the cheaper option.

The research was done by a team from Cardiff University, and the metrics they came away with show just how much companies can do to cut waste. The study showed that by charging customers for a cup they use of re-usable cups rose by 2.3%, and by giving away those re-usable cups the useage rate climbed to 4.3%.

While these results aren’t staggering, they were tested over the course of a few months, and if given more time they very well could achieve more dramatic effects.

The author of the report, Professor Wouter Pootinga had this to say, “While the increases for individual measures were modest, the greatest behavioural change was when the measures were combined”.

Coffee cups could represent as much as 25,000 tonnes of annual waste, and that is just in the UK.

“Our results show that, on average, the use of reusable coffee cups could be increased by up to 12.5 percent with a combination of measures. With this in mind, the UK’s usage of an estimated 2.5bn disposable coffee cups each year could be cut by up to 300 million coffee cups,” Added Professor Poortinga.

One of the most important things to come out of this study was the subtle difference in the use of incentives. While offering a discount to people who used re-usable cups had no effect, charging for disposable cups created results.

This just goes to show that if you want to make a difference, you have to lean on old habits with fresh ideas that slam consumers where they feel it.


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