The documentary ‘Blue Planet’ has brought the issue of single use plastics into the conversations of so many of us across the UK with many calling for a disposable cup ban. There is no doubt that plastic waste is a problem on a global scale and the temptation is to just groan that there is nothing that we can do to make a difference.
The inconvenient truth is that this isn’t actually true. We’ve all seen ourselves the changes that have come as a result of the 5p plastic bag tax. Usage has dropped by over 83% since it was introduced and in excess of £66 million was raised for good causes in 2017. Taking action can deliver improvements when those actions are suddenly being completed en masse.
Annual coffee cup usage is estimated at somewhere between 2.5 and 3.75 billion cups per year which works out at about 50 per head in the UK.
Fewer than 1 in 400 coffee cups are recycled, and that includes our cups that are entirely compostable but require certain conditions in order for them to be composted efficiently.
Talking to you in the cafe on a daily basis we know that there has been a big shift in attitudes towards plastic use and we want to reflect that with a move towards a more acceptable position.
Yorkshire’s First Disposable Cup Ban
From Monday 14th May onwards we’re choosing to be part of the solution. From 14th May 2018 we’ll make coffee in your supplied cup or you are welcome to purchase a cup from us. We have just over two week where we’ll continue to offer single use cups so guests can get used to the idea, but after that they will not be available and we’ll gift our remaining stock of cups to another retailer.
You can bring in whatever cup you would like to use and we’ll be happy to fill it. Please bear with us if it’s a non-standard size, we may need to measure it’s capacity so we can make sure we get your drink right.
Alternatively, we’ll stocking the Pokito cup which is a British invention that is capable of offering three different cup sizes from a single unit.
These cups retail at £15 and we’ll offer two options for you to purchase:
Purchase a cup for £15 and we’ll include £10 of credit that you can load onto your existing Reward Card to spend on food and drinks in the future. If you don’t have our reward card you can set one up as part of the purchase.
Purchase a cup for £10.
We’ve reached a tipping point in terms of public opinion and we feel like this is something that guests will applaud and support. We consider Baltzersen’s to be within a group of indies within Harrogate and further afield that are keen to show an example of how business can be done by leading from the front.
We take a lot of care to support other indies. We buy our organic milk direct from the farmers, our roaster North Star buy a lot of the coffee that we use direct from farmers all over the world. With such emphasis on the ingredients we use to make our drinks it makes sense to focus on how it’s served.
Aren’t you going to lose money?
Yes, more than likely we’ll miss out on some custom and have to direct some guests to alternative options if they haven’t got a reusable cup or aren’t willing to purchase one.
We’re in a slightly different position to larger companies like Waitrose that offer coffee as a perk of shopping with them. They have an enviable win-win scenario where if fewer people drink their coffee they save money and either way they have made a responsible and sustainable choice for which they should be applauded.
We do feel that some new guests will seek us out because they are concerned about their personal plastic impact and would like to make a positive choice to reduce disposable cup usage.
Aren’t there other things you should be starting with?
Businesses are big consumers and have a huge impact on the environment across a whole range of functions. We are under no illusion that removing the option of paper cups is just a tiny improvement, but it all adds up.
We are certainly far from perfect in terms of how we are operating from an environmental point of view at the moment, but that’s ok – we’re acknowledging that and we want to do better.
We’re making May a month where we’re going to focus on a whole range of issues from waste disposal and recycling, sourcing, how we work with suppliers and lots more. The work will undoubtedly extend beyond that into future choices across the business.
There are a number of lobbying groups in Harrogate that we plan to meet with to get some extra guidance around these issues too. So you can expect to hear a little more here on the blog.
What have we already done?
It’s not like we haven’t taken action like this in other areas already.
In early March we asked you how we should be approaching the issue of straw usage in the cafe. The resounding answer was that for most people straws were seen as not required. We were aware that for some people with medical conditions and also younger guests straws are preferable for accessing drinks so we wanted to make sure we have them available.
The policy in the cafe now is that paper straws are available by request at the counter and also at our water station but they are not included with your drink as standard.
We can’t believe it’s approaching 2.5 years since we installed our water font in the cafe so we could offer chilled, filtered water (still or sparkling) to guests at no cost.
Recently we added ourselves to the Refill app, an Ordnance Survey backed map that logs locations you can fill up your reusable water bottle for free.
We know this decision won’t be universally loved, but we’re asking you to work with us on this because changing habits can deliver significant results.
If we can make this change as a little indie in Yorkshire it proves that much bigger organisations can do the same and will hopefully add to the pressure being applied for businesses to make a change.
As ever, if you have comments or questions get in touch here, via social media or by email and we’ll do our best to answer them.