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McDonald's and Loop Launch Reusable Cup Program In the UK

by Rudy Sanchez on 07/22/2021 | 2 Minute Read

For some, coffee is a critical part of their day. But the popularity of the caffeinated beverage, prepared in a myriad of ways, also generates plenty of waste in the form of to-go coffee cups. 

In the UK, according to The British Coffee Association, our neighbors across the pond consume 95 million cups of coffee a day. The ability to grab a coffee while out and about is essential in feeding the java monkey on our back, but it comes at the cost of often non-recyclable waste in the form of cups, lids, insulation sleeves, stirrers, and condiment sachets. Though referred to as “paper cups,” they are made of more than just paper, and they utilize a waterproof and heat-resistant plastic lining, making the mixed-material packaging nearly impossible to recycle.

Editorial photograph

Larger chains selling coffee like Starbucks and fast-food giant McDonald’s have explored options such as cups made of new materials and reuse programs. One such initiative, announced last year, is a pilot program in the UK that's a partnership between Mickey D’s and Loop. 

That pilot program has finally seen the light of day, and six locations will trial the reusable cup system. According to UK outlet Daily Express, the cups will require a £1 refundable deposit, and the chain is offering a 20p discount on beverages to incentivize customer adoption. Once finished with your cup, drop it in the designated Loop bin, where it will get deep-cleaned and then returned to service. The customers can also return the cups to other McDonald’s locations and, soon, Tesco outlets. 

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The vessel from Circular&Co comes from recycled single-use coffee cups and polypropylene plastic (PP). Once the McDonald's mug gets taken out of circulation, they are used again to make another round of reusables, creating a closed-loop system.

McDonald’s and Loop aim to bring comparable programs to other markets around the world and joins experiments by McDonald’s in Germany, the Philippines, and the NextGen Cup Challenge.