M&S has become the “first major high street coffee retailer” to offer its customers 100% paper, plastic-free, and easily recyclable coffee cups and lids.
The new cups address the major challenge with existing “recyclable” cups, which contain a thin layer of plastic coating on the inside to stop the contents from seeping into the paper. This coating makes them difficult to recycle, and the only solution to date has been to have specific take-back schemes and recycling processes.
According to the retailer, it has solved this problem using “innovative organic materials” that can be recycled like any other paper product. The lining material replicates the barrier effect of plastic and performs just as strongly in independent tests, but without the same long-lasting environmental impact if not properly recycled.
M&S said the cups would see 20 million units of plastic packaging removed each year from its Food business, building on the 75 million reduction in pieces of plastic packaging achieved in 2022 and feeding into its target of removing one billion units of plastic from the packaging of its food business.
The move also follows M&S’s introduction of reusable paper bags at tills across every M&S store, offering a sustainable and recyclable alternative for customers.
“Our customers look to us to lead on the environment, and we are constantly aiming to raise the bar and lower our impact on the planet,” said Alex Freudmann, Managing Director at M&S Food.
“With one in every two of us visiting a coffee shop several times a week, the long-lasting damage coffee cups can have on the planet without being properly recycled is huge. That’s why we were determined to bring a sustainable alternative to what’s out there today, and we’re proud to offer customers the first fully recyclable coffee cup on the high street.”
The cups are now available at 20 sites across the UK, including M&S Cafés, vended coffee points, and Marketplaces within its Foodhalls. They will be rolled out to every M&S Café in the coming months.
M&S also offers a 50p discount on all hot drinks in its cafés for customers who bring their own reusable cup, which is the most sustainable option. However, when this isn’t possible, M&S’s new cups are a planet-friendly alternative.
The retailer’s announcement follows closely on the heels of new bans and restrictions on single-use plastic plates, bowls, trays, containers, and cutlery, which came into force on October 1st in an effort to reduce littering, promote reuse, and contribute to global efforts to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste by 2042.
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