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International Coffee Day: “Set the alarm, wake up and smell the coffee in your reusable cup”

news release

City to Sea and Friends of the Earth press release

Environmental organisations Friends of the Earth and City to Sea are joining forces this International Coffee Day to highlight the plastic pollution caused by single-use coffee cups.

As many return to the office, the caffeine pick-me-up is once again a central element of people’s morning commute.

A poll [1], which was carried out for City to Sea and Friends of the Earth in the summer of 2021 found that one in three people had reusable containers, including coffee cups, refused by cafes. Despite initial worries at the height of the pandemic, leading experts have said that reusable coffee cups are safe to use providing basic hygiene guidance is followed. City to Sea has produced comprehensive guidance for businesses on how to accept reusable cups, bottles, and take-away containers in a Covid-safe way. 

This is why, together with Friends of the Earth, City to Sea are inviting commuters to carry their trusty reusable cups with them. They’re also calling on businesses to accept reusable coffee cups and encourage customers to choose reusables over single-use coffee cups on International Coffee Day, and after. This can be done safely by using City to Sea’s #ContactlessCoffee guidance.

The free Refill app connects people to places they can eat, drink and shop without the pointless packaging, and lists over 30,000 places in the UK where the people can get free drinking water refills, do zero waste shopping, and find businesses offering discounts for bringing a reusable cup. 

Steve Hynd, Policy Manager at City to Sea, said:

“There is a huge sense of déjà brew here. Pre-pandemic consumers were hooked on their morning coffee regardless of the environmental impact, using over 2.5 billion single-use plastic coffee cups a year. A House of Commons report estimated that this had an annual carbon footprint equivalent to over 152,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide, similar to what 33,300 cars produce in a year.”

He continued, “But a different way of drinking coffee is brewing. The use of reusable coffee cups can become the new norm just as using a reusable water bottle has. Reusables are saving consumers money and saving our environment. So, our advice this International Coffee Day is simple: set the alarm, wake up and smell the coffee in your reusable cup.”

Camilla Zerr, Plastics Campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: 

“Plastic coffee cups are one of the many items contributing to the waste mountain of unnecessary plastics harming our environment. Government can face up to the plastics challenge by introducing a new law to set legally binding limits to reduce all types of plastic pollution, not just coffee cups. They can do that right now in the Environment Bill as it makes its way through parliament.  

“In the meanwhile, we can do our bit on International Coffee Day by remembering our favourite reusable coffee cup along with travel cards and work passes as we head out of the door to the office once again. And we can make that caffeine injection count by supporting independent shops that are pioneering refill and plastic-free options.”


For more information and interview requests contact Friends of the Earth press office on 020 7566 1649 / 07718 394786 (out of hours – please do not text this number) or by emailing or alternatively contact City to Sea’s Media Manager, Steve Hynd on or ring 07903 569531. 

Notes to editor:

1. About the polling: The poll was conducted in May 2021 by One Poll and had a sample of 2000 adults from within the UK. The poll also found that 81% of Brits want the UK government to make refillable products easier to buy and more widely available, as a main priority for reducing plastic pollution. And three out of four people (74%) would like to see more refill options, for things like dried foods, laundry detergents, and take-away coffees, available to them so they can limit the amount of single-use plastic in their lives.

2. About City to Sea: City to Sea is a not-for-profit that campaigns to stop plastic pollution at source. To find out more about City to Sea, please visit

3. About Refill: Refill is an award-winning campaign to help people live with less waste. The campaign connects people to places they can eat, drink and shop without the pointless packaging. Anyone can download the free Refill app to tap into a global network of places to reduce, reuse and refill. From a coffee on your commute, to drinking water on the go, or even shopping with less plastic, Refill puts the power to go packaging free at your fingertips. The app lists over 280,000 Refill Stations around the world.

4. About Friends of the Earth: Friends of the Earth is an international community dedicated to the protection of the natural world and the wellbeing of everyone in it. We bring together more than two million people in 75 countries, combining people power all over the world to transform local actions into global impact. For more information visit: follow us at @friends_earth, or like our Facebook page.

5. Case studies and supporting quotes:

Matthew Philpott, Marketing Manager at Bristol based Better Food, Bristol, says:

“Better Food strives to make responsible decisions on the packaging we use in our stores and cafés so we are always looking to grow the refill options we have available. Joining the Refill campaign was an easy choice, to encourage even more people to make a positive impact when they shop. As well as making our coffees cheaper for customers who bring a reusable cup, last year we introduced a new scheme, Bee Better, which incentivises customers who refill with free organic drinks and regular refill discounts.”

 Kasim Ali, Founder, of Waterloo Tea in Cardiff, says:

“The move to reusable is no longer merely a ‘nice thing to do’ considering the lack of infrastructure and capacity around composting and recycling. At Waterloo, despite being mainly a drink-in venue, we have a scheme that offers 20% off drinks in reusable cups as well as a free drink when customers purchase a reusable cup.  We hope that the movement will grow in the same way as the single use carrier bag usage is evolving. Producing less waste, of any description, will be the mantra that ethical businesses are abiding by as the long-term solution, despite any advances local councils may make on composting and recycling.”

Jack Rogers, Founder of We are Ottos Coffee Roasters, Sevenoaks, says:

”Joining Refill was a no-brainer for us, It is right up our street. We removed single-use coffee cups and lids from our business from May this year, to encourage reusable items that we give discount coffee in return for people making the effort. Not only are we using this as an opportunity to demonstrate that actually if you get the messaging and communication right and it’s a team effort between you and your customers, it can work, but it also does work and it is working. It’s a fantastic opportunity to open up a bigger conversation into the single. use items that are immediately becoming waste in the food and drink industry and it’s a huge problem! Just because you put something in the bin and you don’t see it anymore. It doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist! Reusing things eliminates that problem. That’s what we are about!”

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