Pret a Manger has today announced its doubling the discount offered to customers who bring their own reusable cups for hot drinks from 25p to 50p, in a bid to cut waste.
However, the chain has at the same time unveiled a new menu item, Tip-Top Hot Pots, which come with separate fresh toppings of spinach, a slice of lemon and seeds to add to the dish – served in an additional plastic pot.
According to Pret, the vegan Cauli & Sweet Potato Dhal and the Chicken & Butternut Squash have a ‘separate “topper” so that fresh, delicate flavours can be stirred into a big, bold hot pot at the very last minute’.
The CEO of Pret, Clive Chee wrote in a blog post in early December: It’s well known that “reduce” is better than “recycle”.
However the introduction of these latest menu items involves yet another piece of plastic packaging for customers to dispose of, despite the chain’s efforts to reduce consumption of single use cups with plastic lids.
A spokesperson for Pret told Femail: ‘The Tip-Top Hot Pot uses a recyclable plastic pot. This is not a new piece of packaging, it is already used for a number of other products in our shops, and we are using it in the Tip-Top Hot Pot so that additional ingredients can be stirred into the hot pot at the last moment.
‘Packaging plays a big role at Pret and we know we have lots of work to do to reduce the impact it has on the environment.
‘We are trialling reusable bottles, introducing more free water stations, and increasing the discount for customers bringing reusable cups from 25p to 50p.
‘We’ve also reduced the weight of a number of key packaging lines. This is all just the start of a long-term plan and we have lots more to do.’
The Daily Mail has been at the forefront of campaigning, including with the launch of a Take Back Your Bottles initiative, as well as championing the carrier bag tax as well as pushing for plastic microbeads to be removed from cosmetics.
How plastic ends up in the ocean
According to Greenpeace, we’ve produced plastic weighing the same amount as one billion elephants since the ’50s and only nine per cent of this has been recycled.
The majority of plastic is dumped in landfill where it can easily blow or be carried away and end up in the sea.
Plastic that is dumped as litter is carried by wind and rain into the drainage networks or rivers and ends up in the sea.
Every year, at least eight million tons of plastic is dumped in our oceans and at current rates there will be more plastic in the sea than fish by 2050.
Researchers from Newcastle University have shown that crustaceans found almost seven miles down, at the bottom of the Mariana Trench in the Pacific, had swallowed microscopic fragments of plastic and there are concerns about it re-entering the food chain through human consumption.
In early December, Erik Solheim, the head of the UN Environment Programme described pollution as ‘the biggest killer on the planet’.
He urged citizens had to put pressure on governments to take action – but said they could help by not using throwaway cups and straws.
‘We have to stop treating the oceans like a dumping ground and we have to stop right now,’ he said. ‘We can only go so far with beach clean-ups and the like. The challenge is we have to stop plastics getting in the oceans in the first place. If we kill the oceans we kill ourselves.
‘The solutions are straightforward. There are plenty of natural alternatives to plastic beads in toothpaste or face scrub.
‘We don’t need food to be systematically wrapped in plastic, and we certainly don’t need plastic straws or throwaway plastic coffee cups.
‘There is no reason for plastic to end up in the ocean – it is basically happening through sheer laziness.’