The supermarket will initially stop the sale of disposable cups in 9 stores from April 30, with a nationwide rollout taking place later in the year. The supermarket said the move would save more than 52m cups a year across the UK.
A January report from the Environmental Audit Committee stated that the UK throws away 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups every year and almost all are incinerated, exported or landfilled.
In March, the government produced a response to a January report which disagreed with several of its key recommendations such as an introduction of a minimum 25p ‘latte levy’, a target of all disposable coffee cups being recyclable by 2023, and for coffee cups to clearly state where they can be recycled
In response, the government said they hoped that the retailers would take action before they would consider introducing charges, amongst other policy options.
Tor Harris, head of sustainability and responsible sourcing at Waitrose said ‘We realise this is a major change, but we believe removing all takeaway disposable cups is the right thing to do for our business and are confident the majority of customers will support the environmental benefits,
It underlines our commitment to plastic and packaging reduction, and our aim is to deliver this as quickly as possible.’
Trewin Restorick of the environmental charity Hubbub said: ‘This is a bold move by Waitrose that should be applauded. It is great to see a major retailer taking decisive action to cut waste in such a high profile part of their business.’
Members of the myWaitrose loyalty scheme will still be able to get their free tea or coffee from self-service machines as a reward for shopping at the supermarket – but will have to bring their own reusable cup, the company said.
The shops in the trial are in Banbury, Billericay, Ipswich, Newmarket, Norwich, Sudbury, Wymondham, Upminster in London, and Fitzroy Street in Cambridge.