University encourages reusable cups and bottles

In a bid to cut disposable plastic waste, the University and Students' Association have made it easier and cheaper for staff and students to use reusable coffee cups and water bottles on campus.

All cafés accept all reusable cups

Poster explaining that cafes accept all reusable cups

Both University-owned cafés and Students' Association cafes now accept any reusable cup, and a new change in pricing aims to incentivise café customers to bring their own cup.

From August 2018, all hot drink prices in University cafés will be lowered to show the price customers will pay if they bring their own reusable cup; while customers without cups will be charged 25p to purchase a disposable cup. This reverses the previous pricing structure in which all hot drinks prices were for disposable cups, with customers who brought a reusable cup receiving a discount. The pricing change does not create an additional cost for customers. Evidence from high street coffee chains and other universities shows that charging for disposables rather than discounting the use of reusables is an effective method of reducing waste.

Students' Association cafes will follow suit in September 2018.

In a joint statement, the University and the Students’ Association said:

“Reducing waste is increasingly important to our staff and students. We are pleased to have changed our policies to now allow all reusable cups to be used in campus cafés, and believe that the charge for using a disposable cup will encourage more of our customers to 'bring their own'.

“We recommend customers bring their cups washed and ready to use, but our staff will be happy to clean your cup before you buy a new hot drink”.

Fill up your water bottle for free

Drinking water sign

In June 2018, the University and Students' Association announced that more free drinking water points were being installed across the campuses to allow staff and students easier access to free water and to reduce the amount of single-use bottles used on campus.

More than thirty new water fountains have been installed, with around two hundred points being installed or upgraded over the next eighteen months.



Gary Jebb, the University's Director of Estates, said: 

"We are installing drinking water points across the University estate in direct response to student requests for more access to drinking water. We are delighted to be able to encourage our students to adopt healthier habits by drinking more water and reducing the number of plastic water bottles that end up as litter."

The problem with disposable plastic

Reusable bottles

Disposable cups, while often made of recycled and recyclable materials, have proven hard to recycle within the Scottish waste industry, which made increasing the use of reusable cups particularly important at the 30+ catering outlets on University campuses.

Reusable cups will be distributed during Welcome Week 2018, and both reusable cups and water bottles are available to purchase from all University and Students' Association cafés and shops.


Find out more about reuse at the University