Esquires opts for compostable and calls on chains to 'sacrifice' profits to address issue

Esquires opts for compostable and calls on chains to 'sacrifice' profits to address issue

Esquires Coffee, with 53 sites across the UK and Ireland, has announced it’s switching to compostable cups across the company from September, in a bold move that sees it absorbing the “substantial” increase in cost.

Announcing the decision, managing director Doug Williamson told Coffee Business World that he believed real change would only occur when the chains were willing to use their profits to address the issue.

The extra cost of the cups, which will be around 30% more, will not be passed onto the consumers as part of the Esquires' “ethical approach to business”.

“It comes at a substantial cost increase, but it’s the right thing to do because the only way to offset this major problem is for cafés to take the lead,” said Williamson (pictured).  

“I note Costa is pushing for folks to use sustainable options and Starbucks is offering price incentives to consumers to take control of the situation, but these initiatives fall completely short…. Real change will only occur when the chains make bold choices and are willing to give back some of their profits to address the issue.”

Esquires said it wasn’t in a position to disclose which cups it was switching to, other than it was working with its current supplier and two other groups.

Sustainability debate is at ‘critical stage’

The sustainability debate is at a critical stage and there is a need for companies to come together on the issue, said Neil Whittall, chairman of the Paper Cup Recycling and Recovery Group (PCRRG).

Speaking during the European Coffee Expo Conference, sponsored by WMF & Schaerer, he said that it was important for companies to work together across the total supply chain.

“The sustainability debate has got wider,” he said.

“I think that there is a massive need for companies in the industry to work together on this sustainability issue.”

He highlighted that, despite concerns about the sustainability of paper cups, they are recyclable. There are 45 organisations signed up to a manifesto with the PCRRG that have pledged to work to provide consumers with more convenience in recycling.

Steve Slark, chairman of Beverage Standards Association, said:  “I have held the view that everyone aspires to be environmentally-friendly and embrace sustainability until they have to pay for it.”

Meanwhile, Steve Kearns, managing director of Cawston Press, said that there are a lot of small changes that can make a “big difference”.

“We run ourselves with the philosophy of doing the right thing. Where we can make a positive change we will use products and formats that are all recyclable,” he said.  

“A behavioural change will come and people are looking for that. Doing the right thing is a good way to stand out. Embrace it instead of resist it.”


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