The Cup Movement: Reducing the use of paper coffee cups

It is estimated that 478 million single-use cups are used in Scotland each year, approximately 95 million of these are used in our community in greater Glasgow. Unfortunately, the waterproof plastic lining on paper cups means that only 4% are currently recycled and the remainder often end up in landfill or as litter on our roadsides.

The “Cup Movement” is an ambitious city-wide campaign launched by the charity Keep Scotland Beautiful earlier this year. The first of its kind in the UK, it is aiming to reduce the use of paper cups, minimise litter from cups and facilitate paper cup recycling across Glasgow.

We believe that addressing the problem of disposable cups requires a collaborative and holistic effort, and we hope that through Glasgow leading the way, other cities will be able to replicate the Cup Movement model and take action.

We are thrilled to be joining the Movement and, to help spread the message, we are encouraging our Glasgow-based customers to get involved. We are also incentivising reusables by offering other members a 20% discount on our range of KeepCups and rCups.

Reducing our footprint

Given the very low recycling rates, we are concerned for the downstream environmental impact of Matthew Algie coffee being served in disposable cups. With the shift in attitudes in the UK from a “throw-away” society to one which is more mindful and focused on sustainability, and the Scottish Government’s agreement in principle to introduce a “latte levy” concept – there’s a clear case for us to be promoting reusable cups and paper cup recycling.

From an environmental perspective, the best action to take is to transition away from disposables, which is why we offer KeepCups and rCups in the Espresso Warehouse catalogue in a range of colours and sizes. To help reduce waste internally, we took the decision to remove disposable cups from our Glasgow offices wherever practical. Recognising that Glasgow staff would need to adjust to this new way of working, we offered employees a free KeepCup if they signed up to our “reusable cups pledge”. As a result, 146 employees received a free KeepCup to use in and outside of work.

In our previous blog we also highlighted the benefits of choosing plant-based and commercially compostable Vegware disposable cups. We launched these in the Espresso Warehouse catalogue in 2018 to offer customers more choice where it’s impractical to move away from disposable cups. Whilst we are fully committed to linking Vegware customers with commercial composting, this service is not available throughout the UK. This may result in some customers preferring to use traditional paper cups and link up with a specialised recycling service, such as the one offered with Simply Cups as part of the Movement.

Why should you become a member?

If you’re a business in the “G” postcode area and you’re interested in taking part in this flagship initiative, you can become a member of the scheme. Through doing so you will:

  • Show leadership in your sector and demonstrate to your customers that you care about reducing your environmental impact. Getting ahead of the curve will also help you to prepare for legislation such as the proposed “latte levy”.
  • Receive helpful advice and materials from Keep Scotland Beautiful on how to take action in the three areas of focus – reusables, litter prevention and cup recycling.
  • Receive invitations to be part of Cup Conversations – sharing learning and best practice with similar businesses.
  • Source discounted reusable KeepCups and rCups to sell to your customers. We’re offering all members of the scheme a 20% discount on our KeepCups and rCups. Members simply need to quote their membership number when placing an order with us over the phone.
  • Access a discounted paper cup recycling service for paper cups used on your premises.


Interested in finding out more about the Movement? Keep Scotland Beautiful has lots of helpful information on their website. Otherwise, we’re happy to answer any questions you have – give us a call or contact us via our contact page.