Every day up to seven million coffee cups are thrown away across the UK – that’s 2.5 billion a year, with less than 1% of these recycled.
Launching in 2017, the Square Mile Challenge campaign was the UK’s first large-scale initiative to tackle coffee cup recycling.
Hubbub worked with the City of London Corporation, national coffee retailers and paper cup manufacturers to introduce new recycling facilities across the City of London.
Barley was briefed to develop the media strategy, provide creative ideas for the launch and handle media relations.
Our objectives were to raise awareness of a solution to the issue, drive employers to sign up to workplace recycling and engage people to use the new services with the aim of recycling 500,000 cups in April and 5 million in 2017.
Insights and Approach
We wanted to present the Square Mile Challenge as the first genuine cross-industry attempt to tackle coffee cup recycling, which could be scaled up across the country.
In January 2017 we targeted local employers via national consumer media and specialist trade media, convincing 36 employers to sign up for workplace recycling (against a target of 30).
For the launch in April 2017, a city skyline sculpture was created from coffee cups and a coffee choir performed outside Liverpool Street station to engage commuters and create a hook for media. Alongside a second push to national media, our focus was on London-based media.
Barley handled the PR for a new partnership between Hubbub and Starbucks to trial the effect of introducing a 5p disposable cup charge in 35 London stores from April to June 2018.
In October 2018, we piggybacked off the government’s budget announcement, and released a media statement in support of a ‘Latte Levy’ and calling for a better long-term environmental solution to disposable cups.
For the announcement and launch we achieved 224 pieces of coverage, generating opportunities to see of 307 million in national and London media.
The public response was overwhelmingly positive and the target of half a million cups in April 2017 was achieved. This had increased to 5 million cups by the end of 2017.
We achieved a further 627 pieces of coverage with 575 million opportunities to see/hear after piggybacking on the Environmental Audit Committee recommendations, including the ‘Latte Levy’ and announcement of a new partnership with Starbucks.
The Starbucks trial generated a 150% uplift in the uptake of reusable cups, leading to the 5p charge being rolled out in all Starbucks stores across the UK.
The success of the Square Mile Challenge led to its replication and scaled up cup recycling in Leeds, Swansea and Edinburgh as part of the ‘Leeds byExample‘ and #InTheLoop city-wide recycling on-the-go campaigns.
coffee cups recycled in April 2017
coffee cups recycled in 2017
coverage items in total
opportunities to see and hear in total
Twitter impressions at launch
reach on Twitter at launch