FPA Executive Director Martin Kersh comments:

“Professor Poortinga is a very eminent Environmental Psychologist and we have great respect for his work. We certainly have no opposition to reusables as a consumer option, however the take up of reusables has been very low and this research does not prove the consumer will be willing to embrace reusable cups as part of their everyday lifestyle.


“University of Cardiff’s research was undertaken in a relatively closed environment of coffee shops on various University and business estates.  A 25p charge is of significance to students but of course the major bulk of sales is on the high street. Typically, following an initial short wave of re usage, a regular pattern of using paper cups returns. The big environmental question must be that if reusable cups are used less than the equivalent number of cups say in carbon terms do we have a negative return environmentally?. This takes no account of the water used to clean them nor the number that get damaged.


“The study itself says that: “It may be difficult to persuade consumers to change their behaviour with regard to their daily coffee or tea.  Disposable cups are very convenient and there are multiple barriers to the uptake of reusable coffee cups*.


“The use of a charge in addition to messaging resulted, according to the research, in a 12.5% increase in usage but that is on a small base. Even if reusables were 2.5% of coffee taken away from the retailer then the research indicates this would increase to 2.9%. Hubbub’s cup collection programme in Manchester sponsored by the major coffee shops and cup producers resulted in 20,000 cups actually being recycled in 3 months. At 80,000 cups per year then it wouldn’t take many cities before the projected University of Cardiff saving is overtaken.


“A cup charge will not result in an increase in recycling. Nor will it result in a decrease in littering. Do we honestly believe that those inclined to throw packaging out of vehicles will stop doing this because of a 25p charge? The charge is effectively a punishment to consumers with a disproportion impact on poorer consumers without any significant environmental return.


“The industry has made great progress with a large number of coffee shops accepting their own and competitors cups and then recycling them. We have Hubbub’s Square Mile Challenge in the City of London starting soon and with incredible support from the major.”

*Poortinga, W. (2017). Results of a field experiment to reduce coffee cup waste.

Issued on behalf of the FPA by Leapfrog PR.  Editorial contact for the FPA is Felicity Read on 01242 282000 or email felicity@leapfropgpr.com