Charging extra for using single-use cups is more effective at reducing their use than offering discounts for reusable cups, according to a new study.
Trials led by Zero Waste Scotland revealed that cafés which replaced discounts for reusable cups with equivalent charges for disposable cups 'significantly increased the proportion of customers switching to reusables for on-the-go coffee and tea' and halved the number of disposables sold.
The proportion of consumers switching from disposable to reusable cups across all four cafés in the trial increased by 50 per cent on average. Lead author Michael Lenaghan said: "We have shown that it isn’t necessary to charge people more for their coffee to persuade them to ditch a disposable cup in favour of a reusable one.
"You just need to put a clear price on the cup and let consumers decide if it is a price worth paying every time they buy a drink. "Single use packaging has an environmental and a financial cost, but that financial cost is usually hidden from view, so consumers don’t have all the information they need to make informed purchasing decisions.
"Behavioural science has shown that people will make more effort to avoid a cost - such as a 25p charge on single use cups - than they will to obtain a gain of equal value - like a 25p reusable cup discount."
An estimated 200 million single use coffee cups are used every year in Scotland alone.