Boston Tea Party, the first UK coffee chain to ban disposable cups, has said it lost a quarter of a million pounds in takeaway coffee sales in the first year of its ban.
Boston Tea Party (BTP), the Bristol-based independent chain, which has two cafes in Bath, banned single use cups on 1st June 2018.
Since the ban came into force, the business has lost 25% of its £1 million takeaway coffee sales.
Customers are asked to bring their own reusable cup from home, buy one or rent one from BTP using their cup deposit scheme.
CEO and co-owner Sam Roberts said: “We have lost £250,000 of our coffee sales since June last year. We felt that this was a financial risk we had to take to do the right thing for our planet.
“We understood that not everyone would be motivated by the ban, so we modelled the loss into our costs.
“As a business we have a responsibility to consider our impact on the world and ensure we have a sustainable future.”
Since June 2018, BTP has stopped over 125,000 cups going to landfill; they have sold 40,000 reusable coffee cups; and raised £12,500 for local charities by giving away the 10p saving from the cost of each single use cup.
Roberts continued: “None of the industry initiatives address the fundamental problems. For example, before the ban, BTP offered a 25p reusable cup discount.
“Only 2.8% of customers used it and we know that this figure is comparable to other coffee businesses.
“Pret A Manger recently reported an improvement from 1.8% to 5% take up in their reusable cup discount scheme when they doubled the discount. This ignores the fact that 95% of their cups still go to landfill or are discarded on the street. This is just not acceptable.
“We want our experience to be a call to action to other companies. Do more than offer a discount. Ban single use cups across the country so that using reusable cups becomes the new normal.”
Mr Roberts believes that it is not up to the small independents to make the next move. “It’s about big business helping to change behaviour. There are too many huge chains not dealing with the problem, putting profits before the planet.
“We urge customers to vote with their feet or to demand change to force the chains to take notice.
“It is worth remembering why we took this course of action in the first place. Only 1 in 400 (0.25%) of the estimated 2.5 billion plastic coated coffee cups used in the UK each year are recycled. 4%, approximately 500,000, are littered every day. The rest (95.75%) go into landfill.
“Many compostable alternatives also end up in landfill as there aren’t enough accessible facilities in the UK to compost them. I have been asked about the impact on the business a lot.
“We are absolutely happy with our decision. We remain 100% committed and there is no going back. There is no planet B.”
Boston Tea Party occupies two sites in Bath, in Kingsmead Square and on Alfred Street.