Starbucks and Hubbub launch first ever airport reusable cup trial with Gatwick Airport

Today, 10th June 2019, Starbucks and Hubbub have launched the first airport reusable cup trial in partnership with Gatwick Airport. The trial will offer drop off points for Starbucks reusable cups throughout the international airport’s South Terminal to help cut paper cup waste and address throw-away culture.

This trial aims to offer a new approach to reuse, helping customers reduce disposable cup usage within closed environments such as travel hubs. Customers at the Starbucks store, which is operated in partnership with SSP, will have the option to borrow a free reusable cup for their drink instead of using a paper cup, which they can then drop off at one of five ‘Cup Check-In’ points throughout the airport before they board their flight.

Over 5.3 million of the seven million paper cups used at Gatwick each year are already being recycled but as recycling requires empty cups to be placed in the dry recycling bins, Starbucks and Hubbub have identified the potential to increase reusable cup options as well to limit the number of cups used in travel hubs where on-the-go packaging is prevalent.

The aim of the trial is to put 2,000 reusable Starbucks cups in circulation throughout Gatwick’s South Terminal, which could drastically reduce the number of paper cups being used each day. For example, if only 250 customers opted for reusable each day, it could see over 7,000 paper cups saved in one month.

Starbucks. South Terminal. Gatwick Airport,
Photo: Zute Lightfoot

Jaz Rabadia MBE, UK Senior Manager of Energy and Sustainability at Starbucks, said: “The purpose of working with Hubbub and Gatwick is to help create a new culture of reuse on-the-go by giving customers the option of a reusable cup instead of paper for free. We are optimistic that the ‘Cup Check-In’ points around the airport will provide enough places for customers to return their cups on the way to their gate, but also recognise this might not for everyone. Our goal is to save 7,000 disposable cups over the course of the month to find out the best ways to drive reuse where it is typically harder to do so – such as airports.”

Rachel Thompson, Sustainability Lead, Gatwick Airport said: “There is strong public support for measures to reduce waste and we are delighted to support one of our retailers with an innovation that can help travellers do that. We are looking forward to seeing how the trial goes and what we can learn to improve the solution.

“This trial fits well with Gatwick’s own circular economy ethos, which sees us utilise as many recovered resources as possible from within the airport estate.  By redesigning and investing in new waste collection and sorting facilities, and also in training to raise awareness about our journey toward zero waste, we have so far managed to hit a waste recycling and reuse rate of 70% this year. This includes all empty coffee cups and plastics and we also send zero waste to landfill.”

How It Works

  • Starbucks customers will be offered the option of having their drink in a reusable cup when they get to the till
  • Customers keep hold of the cup for the time they are in the airport
  • Before boarding, cups can be returned to one of five ‘Cup Check-In’ points located throughout the terminal, including at the Starbucks store
  • Cups will be collected by Gatwick’s waste management team to be washed and sterilised in line with the airport’s safety standards and returned to Starbucks ready for customer consumption
  • Any customers wishing to choose a disposable paper cup are still welcome and able to do so and will incur the 5p paper cup charge that is live in all Starbucks stores.

Trewin Restorick, CEO and Co-Founder, Hubbub said: “We know that people care about waste, but it’s often hard to ‘do the right thing’ when travelling. We want to find out whether people will get on board with reusing cups, if we make it easy and convenient. The airport is the ideal environment to trial a reusable cup scheme, as it is a closed loop environment and has the potential to reduce large volumes of paper cup waste. What we learn here will provide valuable insight into how to deploy a reusable trial in not only other airports, but many other environments.”

This trial is part of Starbucks and Hubbub’s on-going partnership and commitment to reducing paper cup waste. After introducing a 5p charge on paper cups in 2018 to encourage reuse, Starbucks has donated all proceeds to Hubbub to carry out environmental projects and research that increase sustainable consumer behaviour, such as this Gatwick trial.