US-headquartered coffeehouse chain Starbucks and UK environmental charity Hubbub have today launched the first-ever reusable cup trial at Gatwick Airport in a campaign they call #cupcupandaway.

Running for one month, the trial allows customers to borrow a reusable cup an any Gatwick’s South Terminal Starbucks outlet and drop it off at one of five ‘Cup Check-in’ points located throughout the airport. The cups will then be collected by Gatwick’s waste management, to be washed and sterilised and returned to Starbucks.

The reusable cup trial aims to offer a new method to reuse and recycling and limit disposable cup usage within closed environments.

Disposable paper cups will be available to customers for the mandatory Starbucks 5p cup charge, which was first introduced in February last year.

StarbucksUK senior manager of energy and sustainability Jaz Rabadia MBEsaid: “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.”

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Gatwick Airport sustainability lead Rachel Thompson 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.”

Hubbub CEO and co-founder Trewin Restorick said: “We know that people care about plastic 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.”

The reusable cup trial is part of Starbucks and Hubbub’s on-going partnership in helping to reduce paper cup waste. The companies launched a new UK grant, The Cup Fund, to help create paper cup recycling programmes across the UK, in April this year.