This is the impact of one cafe chain giving up disposable cups

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This is the impact of one cafe chain giving up disposable cups


Six months again west country cafe chain, Boston Tea Party, decided it was going to refuse to serve coffee in single use cups. This is what happened next...

Georgina Wilson-Powell

Mon 3 Dec 2018

If you've been to Bristol, Bath or Plymouth you might have come across Boston Tea Party. On 1 June this year it took the bold, and unprecedented move, to refuse to serve its drinks in single use coffee cups across its 22 cafes.

Customers can either bring in their own reusable cup, borrow a loan cup and bring it back at their convenience for a full refund or buy an Ecoffee cup. 

Fast forward to December 2018 and the independent cafe chain has prevented a massive 81,500 disposable coffee cups from going into landfill. What's more, it's also sold 22,500 Ecoffee cups at cost price to help consumers make the switch.

Boston Tea Party ban single use coffee cups
Boston Tea Party ban single use coffee cups

Image Boston Tea Party ban single use coffee cups back in June. They're quite happy to put your coffee in anything else.

Anita Atkins, BTP’s Brand Director says: “Our customers have been incredible both online and in cafes. The feeling in our cafes is very different in the morning. Far from being a routine on the way to work, customers are now happy about their morning coffee, doing something good for the planet and giving to a local charity, all before the day begins. We are calling them everyday heroes.  One customer brought a yoghurt pot in for their coffee, proving that our team really will put coffee in any receptacle that will hold it!"

The cost that's been saved not buying single use coffee cups has been donated to charity, with each town or city's cafe choosing a local charity to support. Over £8,000 has been raised since June.

While the cafe chain has seen a decrease of 24% in hot drink takeaway purchases from 2017, it has had a lot of interest from other brands and buildings, looking for help to implement their own coffee cup ban. With 2.5 billion used every year in the UK, and only one in four cups recycled, it's going to take more than one chain to force a society wide change but Boston Tea Party take heart that they're inspiring other brands to join them.

Sam Roberts, owner and MD of BTP comments: “We’ve had calls from cafes and coffee chains asking us to guide them through how to go about organising their own ban, and that is the real success story here. We can’t solve this problem on our own, we’re determined to find as many organisations as possible, however big or small, to help this campaign to gather momentum.  

To that end we’ve run operator workshops to convey to the industry how the ban has worked from an operational and commercial perspective. The management team has presented at industry events nationally and locally and interest in the business has never been keener.