Removing the Disposable cup

We’re Changing Queen Mary and Pilkington Cafés, 

…and we’ve gone disposable cup free

We appreciate that disposables cups are convenient but they are not a necessity. We lead on life-changing research, providing new insight and solutions to the most pressing issues of our time and we’d like our actions as an organisation to reflect our determination to achieve positive change in the world. That’s why, with our main catering provision moving to Dreadnought, we’ve decided to make Queen Mary Café (Greenwich) and Pilkington Cafe (Medway) disposable cup free; to do our part in helping prevent unnecessary plastic waste. This will enable us to offer a new tariff at this cafe, as the cost of the disposable cup isn’t applied, reducing the cost of your coffee. We understand many of us would use reusable cups more if it were easier to do. So to help facilitate a smooth transition to reusable cups for our staff and students we’re introducing ‘Buy It, Bring It, Swap It’ for those that aren’t fussed about the cup they get and don’t want to keep washing their cup throughout the day. The principle is simple:
  • Buy a cup for as little as £2.95 and get your first coffee for free
  • Bring it back with you when visiting to buy your next hot drink
  • Swap it for a replacement cup by simply handing it to the Barista when ordering your drink and ask for a clean cup.
We’ll continue to provide crockery for those drinking in, and will have a range of reusable cups that you can purchase at cost price if you want a cup to match your style. Making this change will prevent approximately 60,000 disposable cups being wasted every year, that’s equivalent to 90 wheelie bins of coffee cups. To find out more go to our FAQ pages for more information.

Reusables at Greenwich so far:

The University is extremely committed to reducing its waste created, however, it has always had high levels of disposable hot drink container usage. An average of 250,000 were used per year (pre-covid). The University has adopted a behaviour change scheme whereby a discount would be given (around 10p) if hot drinks were purchased in a reusable cup. Unfortunately, increase this discount is limited due to commodity cost pressures / food inflation, and therefore results have show a low reuse rate: in 2022 it was at 16%.

Reusables at Greenwich from now on:

The University’s Sustainable Development Unit, alongside Grayson’s Catering launched a reusables project pilot in 2022. This led to findings of how best to move forward and led to the realisation that a tax levy instead of a discount may be more effective. Therefore, a tax of 20p will be implemented from September 2023 on all disposable cups at the university.

Why a Tax?
  • Even with a 20p tax, hot drink prices in the university outlets are still cheaper than other local coffee shops.
  • The initative supports the university’s corporate and sustainability ambitions
  • Research found a tax on disposables increase reusable rates, whereas discounts had no effect (Poortinga & Whitaker, 2018).
  • Over half of students report they are provided with free reusable coffee cups when they join the university
  • Reduction in waste by savings of around 5000 bin bags of disposable cups per year. This will lead to a reduction in landfill and therefore a reduction in emissions.
Where can I buy reusable cups at the university?

All outlets sell a range of reusable cups and water bottles at a range of prices. When you buy a coffee cups in the outlet, your first hot drink will be free!

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