British supermarket retailer Waitrose has pledged to stop using disposable coffee cups at its shops by this autumn, as part of a plan to protect the environment from plastic waste.

The move, which comes after the retailer’s recent announcement to ditch black plastic from its own-label products from 2019, is expected to save more than 52 million cups a year.

Starting from 30 April, the initiative will be trialled in nine stores before being rolled out across the retailer’s over 350 stores in the UK.

As part of the scheme, members of the supermarket’s loyalty scheme, myWaitrose, will have to use their own reusable cups in order to have free tea or coffee from self-service machines.

“Removing all takeaway disposable cups is the right thing to do.”

Waitrose Sustainability and Responsible Sourcing head Tor Harris 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.”

The retailer will no longer serve free hot drinks to myWaitrose members in its 180 in-store cafes.

The initiative builds on Waitrose’s aim to make all own-label packaging recyclable, reusable or home compostable by 2025.

Momentum is building in the UK on the proposed levy on disposable coffee cups as many companies pledge to phase them out from their range.

Earlier this year, coffee company Starbucks introduced a 5p cup charge in 20-25 central London stores in a bid to encourage and support the use of reusable cups.

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