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Campaigners propose 'Sheffield Cup' to tackle single-use plastic

The scheme would see participating coffee shops all use the same branded container, which could be returned at any other shop for a £1 rebate.

Globelet reusable dsp8u H Rl S6c unsplash

People using reusable cups at a music festival.

Globelet Reusable on Unsplash.

Plastic waste campaigners have put forward an innovative idea to tackle single-use coffee cups in Sheffield, asking as many shops as possible to sign up to a 'Sheffield Cup'.

This would allow anyone to take a cup after paying a £1 deposit, which they could then get back after returning the cup at any other participating shop.

Similar schemes have been trialled successfully in other parts of the UK, including the Shrewsbury Cup and the Overton Cup, with Bristol and Chester introducing their own city-wide cups this year.

Plastic Free Sheffield Central say the idea would reduce each consumer's carbon footprint, reduce litter, and save on costs for small businesses.

“We can’t keep producing disposables and creating waste – the time is now for a reusable revolution," said the group's Greg Hewitt.

"Sheffield is perfectly placed to adopt reusable solutions, and we ask that any business offering takeaway coffees, as well as those traders at events selling food and drinks, signs up to join our mission."

The group are asking both local businesses and individuals to express their interest in the project by filling in an online form.

The UK uses around seven million disposable coffee cups every day, amounting to around 2.5bn a year. Globally, the world throws away around 500bn coffee cups each year.

Other European countries are far ahead of the UK in reducing coffee cup waste – paying a deposit (known as a 'pfand') for a returnable cup is common in German cities.

In a bid to reduce waste, the European Union said in 2018 that they plan to get rid of single-use coffee cups completely by 2030.

In Sheffield, the Plastic Free campaign say they're also looking at the potential for returnable pint glasses as well as food containers for street food outlets.

“One of the barriers we’d like to overcome in future is the issue of washing cups and containers locally, and so if anyone knows of any solution for this, please get in touch with us," said Hewitt.

The campaign group recently awarded their first-ever 'Plastic Free Champions' status to four Sheffield businesses, who had to "remove or replace three items of plastic and show they’re trying to tackle more."

The four businesses to win the status were Borrow and Nest, Embers&Ink, Northern Forage and Tigs.

"Businesses can directly make the world a better or worse place all because of the choices they make," said Emma from Embers&Ink. "I have a responsibility to my customers to make their disposal of my postage and packaging as easy and planet-friendly as possible."

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