Coffee chains jump on plastic ban

AUSTRALIA'S two leading coffee chains have joined the plastic banned-wagon, promising 50-cent discounts for patrons who bring in reusable cups for their caffeine fix.

In the wake of major supermarkets' botched move away from single-use plastic bags, The Daily Telegraph can reveal Starbucks Australia is increasing its discount for customers who bring in their own cups from 40c to 50c as an incentive to cut down on plastic waste.

It can also be revealed The Coffee Club, which has 54 cafes across NSW, is also knocking 50c off the price of takeaway coffees from Saturday when customers bring their own reusable cups in.

The moves comes after Starbucks in the UK introduced a controversial "latte levy" last week, slapping a five-pence - or 10c - charge on disposable coffee cups.

 

The international coffee chain has also announced its commitment to eliminate all single-use plastic straws from stores by 2020.

But experts are doubtful the discount incentive will work, saying it will take a "major shock" to change ­ingrained patterns of behaviour regarding disposable cups.

Marketing and consumer behaviour expert Dr Rohan Miller of the University of Sydney, said the issue was that people lived in a "convenience society" where they struggled to think ahead.

"We know we always get coffee but it's a habitual decision … we don't really think about it," Dr Miller said. "We want to take our own cup but it's cumbersome, it's a hassle so there have to be better ways of doing it.

"That has to be almost the Italian cafe management-style where you stand at a bar, drink your coffee, give them back the cup and then go."

Thousands of takeaway coffee cups wait to be recycled and turned into plastic-free packaging at James Cropper in England — the world’s first recycling process dedicated to upcycling takeaway cups. Picture: Getty
Thousands of takeaway coffee cups wait to be recycled and turned into plastic-free packaging at James Cropper in England — the world’s first recycling process dedicated to upcycling takeaway cups. Picture: Getty

Rather than giving customers a discount, Dr Miller said charging more to use plastic cups would have been a more effective solution.

"I think people would prefer to save money than not save money and if there's a cost disincentive that recognises an externality associated with a single-use cup then that's good," he said.

Experts say supermarket giants Coles and Woolworths are suffering "sales weakness" in the wake of their bans on non-reusable plastic bags.

An analysts report suggested "top up" sales were down because shoppers were only buying what they could hold in their hands.

Last week the supermarkets announced they would reward customers with points if they brought their own reusable bags to the stores. Both chains were also forced to stretch out their trial period of offering free reusable shopping bags to customers.



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