Playing our part to reduce cup waste

A blog post by Amy Oroko

Amy Oroko
Sustainability Manager - Matthew Algie

Posted 19/09/2019

Recent posts

If you’ve been following Keep Scotland Beautiful’s Cup Movement campaign, then you’ll already be aware of the scale of Scotland’s dependence on disposable cups. It is estimated that 478 million single-use cups are used in Scotland each year and approximately 95 million of these are used in our community in greater Glasgow.

As a coffee roaster and cup supplier via Espresso Warehouse, we are concerned by our downstream environmental impact. The waterproof plastic lining on paper cups means that only 4% of disposable cups are currently recycled and the remainder often end up in landfill or as litter on our roadsides.

Building on the environmental argument, there’s an increasing business case for us, and our customers, to be promoting reusables and paper cup recycling. Consumer attitudes are changing in the UK, from a “throw-away” society to one which is more mindful and focused on sustainability. For example, research by Global Web Index in 2018 found that 61% of millennials are prepared to pay more for eco-friendly products. Furthermore, the Scottish Government have committed in principle to introducing a “latte levy” as an additional charge on disposable drinks cups, similar to the 5p carrier bag charge currently in place in the UK.

We know the best action to take is to transition away from disposables, which is why we have had KeepCups in the Espresso Warehouse catalogue for many years and have recently launched rCUPs. To help reduce cup waste internally, we removed them from our Glasgow offices wherever practical and gave away 146 free KeepCups for staff to use in and outside of work.

However, often it’s impossible for cafes to remove disposable cups entirely from their operations. Waste collection infrastructure varies throughout the UK which is why our intention is to help our customers to find the best solution for their used disposables depending on their specific location and context. In some places, this will could mean working with an organisation such as Simply Cups to access cup recycling services, whilst for others it could mean using our Vegware plant-based cups and linking up with a commercial composting service.

The Cup Movement is an excellent opportunity for businesses in Glasgow because it is offering a full package of support – from access to a discounted cup recycling service, to helpful advice on how to take action, and invitations to events to share learnings. We’re also offering members a 20% discount on our KeepCups and rCUPs on orders over £50, to help them to promote reusables*.

Taking action on this issue requires a collaborative and holistic effort and to that end we believe that ambitious city-wide initiatives such as the Cup Movement are a significant step in the right direction. We hope that through Glasgow leading the way, other cities will benefit from the learnings and be able to replicate the model.


Matthew Algie is a coffee roaster servicing the out of home hospitality sector throughout the UK and Ireland. For more information on their products and their approach to sustainability, check out their website www.matthewalgie.com

We support the