M&S Food has introduced a paper fibre coffee cup, setting a new standard for sustainability in the retail coffee industry.

The multinational retailer will offer customers 100% recyclable coffee cups and lids across its cafés. This game-changing initiative is expected to eliminate more than 20 million units of plastic from M&S’ food business.

The new cup will be available from 19 October 2023 across twenty sites, including M&S Cafés, vended coffee points and marketplaces within its food halls such as Stratford City, London, Leeds White Rose and Cheshunt. M&S said it plans to roll out the cup to every M&S Café in the coming months.

Departure from traditional cups

Regular paper coffee cups face recycling challenges due to a thin layer of plastic coating on the inside. This coating prevents easy recycling and necessitates specific takeback schemes and processes operated by only a few recyclers in the UK.

M&S’ new cups and lids break away from this norm, using a lining material that mimics the barrier effect of plastic but without the environmental repercussions. 

The material has a plastic-free accreditation and ensures that the cup would break down even if it were to end up in a landfill.

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Environmental impact

M&S has set a target of removing one billion units of plastic from its food business’ packaging, with last year witnessing the removal of 75 million units.

The introduction of the paper fibre cup and lid is projected to remove 20 million units of plastic packaging annually.

The initiative builds on M&S’ sustainable practices after it introduced reusable paper bags at tills across every M&S store.

Eco-friendly choice for coffee lovers

The retailer is also encouraging consistent, sustainable practices in consumers by offering a 50p discount on hot drinks for customers bringing their own reusable cups. However, the new cups provide a planet-friendly alternative. 

With over 300 cafes, M&S remains one of the largest high street coffee retailers in the UK, contributing significantly to the adoption of eco-conscious choices.

M&S Food managing director Alex Freudmann expressed the company’s commitment to environmental leadership, stating: “Our customers look to us to lead on the environment and we are constantly aiming to raise the bar and lower our impact on the planet. With one in every two of us visiting a coffee shop several times a week, the long-lasting damage coffee cups can have on the planet without being properly recycled is huge.”