An Evaluation of The Preferences of Using Paper Coffee Cup by Consumers And How It Affects Sustainability

Executive Summary

The use of disposable coffee cups is proven to be posing some serious hazards for the environment as well as for the health of consumers. These cups are increasingly being used with the popularity of big coffee houses like Starbucks and Costa Coffee where people prefer to carry their coffee on the go. These trends are making it necessary fro the industry players to look for alternatives to disposable cups and provide opportunities of recycling to reduce the impact of their operations on the environment and the society as a whole. Keeping this background in minds, a detailed study is conducted to understand the preference of using paper coffee cups and its impact on sustainability. The focus of the study is on exploring perception of consumers in relation to usage of disposable paper cups and the sustainability initiatives as undertaken by coffee chains to curb the usage of disposable cups.

The study is conducted by collecting qualitative form of data associated with sustainability initiatives as undertaken by Starbucks and Costa Coffee and analysed by categorising the results under certain pre-defined themes. The results of the study explains that the reasons of sanitation, cost-effectiveness, ease of usage and easy to carry makes disposable cups a preferred choice for coffee consumers as well as cafes. However, there is a lack of awareness among consumers about the sustainability issues and health hazards associated with usage of disposable paper cups lined with a thin layer of polyethylene plastic. Therefore, the need is to create awareness about the issue and focus on bringing a behavioural change among consumers to adopt positive behaviours of using reusable cups instead of disposable coffee cups. Along with this it is necessary that cafes follow a collaborative approach to curb the usage of disposable coffee cups by starting the initiatives from the stores itself. Therefore, the study recommends an approach where companies engage various stakeholders to achieve the goals of sustainability.

Chapter 1: Introduction

1.1 Background

Traditionally, people had the habit of sharing glasses at public places such as trains, festival spots, schools and railway stations. However, this practice resulted in issues associated with hygiene thereby introducing disposable paper cups during the 20th century. Present day world can been seen dominated by plastic increasing people’s dependency on plastic that continues to grow. People expect convenience and want anything and whenever they want it. Some elements like online shopping, fast food, food and beverages on the go and smartphones have become common features of the culture of societies (Singh and Kumar, 2010). Similarly, grabbing a cup of coffee on the go and toss the cup in any nearest trashcan is a key expectation of people today. As the usage of paper coffee cups does not add any monetary cost to individuals, there is no incentive for people not to enjoy this convenience.

The necessity of plastic’s use is never questioned because of its being so common in everyday life in our society (Wals, 2012). The busy lifestyle of people in present day societies has made holding and drinking out of a beverage cup a common scene on road and scene in the TV shows and films. It has occupied a place in culture of modern life in the world. Earlier, during 1990s people could just enjoy cool beverages outside using PET bottles or aluminium cans (Dobers and Strannegard, 2005). However, with the growing of coffee houses like Starbucks, the need for paper coffee cups have risen due to popularity of hot beverages consumed on the go. Moreover, the dramatic rise in coffee consumption has made these paper coffee cups even more popular and people consider these disposable and easy to use. However, such an increased consumption of coffee resulting in huge paper cup consumption is acting as a major environmental concern in the industry (Convery et al., 2007).

A major concern is associated with perception of people about these paper coffee cups. Generally users consider these cups disposable and may not have a clear idea of sustainability issues posed by the increasing usage of coffee paper cups. These cups offer sanitary and convenience benefits, but the production purchase and disposal prove to be a polluter, expensive and consume a significant amount of water and energy. This is because the paper coffee cups are lined with a thin layer of polyethylene plastic without which the cup can leak and become soggy (Felix, 1990 as cited in Fisher 2008). Generally these cups are sending for waste and trash through a landfill. This creates several serious sustainability issues as we are running out of landfill space making the need of more sites necessary fro the purpose of landfills that destroys the habitats in the process (Legrand and Chen, 2014). This is so as a toxic “soup” is created by landfills due to presence of chemicals, plastic and other mindlessly dumped substances. These in turn produce methane that is one of the strongest greenhouse gases resulting in an adverse impact on the quality of air in the areas around landfills (Legrand and Chen, 2014). Therefore, it is not enough to put the disposable cup into the recycling bin as recycling does not equals to sustainability. It is just that recycling generated a ‘feel good’ effect that consumers may not feel the need of changing their habits to reduce waste by using a reusable cup (SBN, 2016). Therefore, it is necessary to understand the perception of actual consumers about the preference and usage of paper coffee cups and their understanding about the impact of such a use on overall sustainability.

Moreover, it is to be noted that behavioural psychology is highly important that act as a tool to maximize the efficacy of sustainability programs. The nature of human beings directs people to become a part of the social in-group making use of language and advertising to bring a change in preference and habit of people to reduce the usage of paper coffee cups. This encourages people to indulge in compliant behaviour through use of right combination of injunctive and descriptive norms directed at convincing people that changing habits and reducing the use of coffee paper cups is a morally correct thing to do (Singh and Kumar, 2010). Changing the habit of using disposable cups to reusable cups have the potential of reducing the volume and weight of waste sent to landfill.

However, some studies explain that it is not enough to educate people about sustainability in order to bring a change in consumer behaviour (Purt, 2014). There is a need to bring in some innovative solutions to bring a change in habits of people and reduce the usage of disposable coffee paper cups. In order to identify such alternative solutions there is a need to conduct a detailed study to identify the factors or reasons that drives consumers to prefer these coffee cups. Such an identification will help in finding alternative to these coffee cups while meeting the needs and expectations of consumers directing a change in their habits and preferences.

1.2 Research problem

Consumers of coffee believe that they are using disposable and recyclable paper coffee cups for their coffee consumption. A majority of consumers are unaware of the recycling limitations and associated sustainability issues of using these coffee paper cups lined with thin plastic (Hocking, 2010). This makes it difficult to reduce the associated waste and hazards on environment. A change in habits of people is the key route to reduce the usage of harmful products and maintain sustainability of consumption. Therefore, people’s perception and preferences needs to be explored and considered as the key issue or problem that demands some awareness and marketing strategies to bring in a social change. It is also important to understand what kind of marketing strategies (online or offline) can prove to be efficient in changing consumer behaviour and whether focusing only on awareness about sustainability can help in bringing the desired result of reducing usage of disposable paper coffee cups.

1.3 Rationale of the Study

The coffee industry is truly global with its producers and consumers spanning nearly every region. Although, coffee can be grown in certain regions, it is consumers by people across the globe. The high rates of consumption raise several sustainability concerns associated with manufacturing, logistics and overall supply chain of coffee chains. Moreover, the consumption of coffee in disposable paper cups pose high degree of sustainability issue that is recognized and being tackled by companies across the world. 

Several studies have been conducted focusing on sustainable coffee that is produced on a farm with biological diversity and low input of chemicals. There are formal initiatives and collaborations of governments with farmers and other stakeholders to conserve resources, protect the environment and produce coffee efficiently while competing commercially and enhancing the quality of life of farmers and the society as a whole. However, the challenges come in when this sustainable coffee is distributed to consumers through disposable coffee cups that do not meet the standards of sustainability. Here, comes the ley challenge of bringing a change in mind-set of coffee consumers and convincing them to bring their own reusable cup for coffee consumption.

Furthermore, there are several studies focused on explaining the impact of using plastic and other disposable material on sustainability (North and Halden, 2013). However, considering the increasing usage of paper coffee cups that are considered disposable and completely recyclable by the consumers, it is necessary to understand whether people are aware about its impact on our environment. There is a need to bring in the change in people’s habits of using disposable paper coffee cups in order to reduce the impact on sustainability. Such a need becomes the rationale of the present study to explore consumers’ perception and preference of using disposable paper coffee cups and its impact on sustainability. The study will help in getting information about people’s views and knowledge as well as increase awareness about using disposable paper cups and the associated hazards to the environment.

1.4 Research Aim and Objectives

Research Aim: To understand preference of using paper coffee cups and its impact on sustainability

Research Objectives:

  1. To analyse present day consumers preference to use paper coffee cups for coffee consumption
  2. To know their reasons of their preference for using these cups
  3. To discuss consumers awareness of the non-recyclable nature of paper coffee cups
  4. To explore the impact of using coffee cups on sustainability

1.5 Research Questions

The present study explores the field of consumer perception and preferences in order to find answers to the following research questions:

  1. What are the reasons of increasing usage of paper coffee cups among present day consumers?
  2. How consumer behaviour towards use of paper coffee cups develops?
  3. Is it enough to make consumers aware of the non-recyclable nature of paper coffee cups to bring a change in consumer behaviour?
  4. What is the impact of using paper coffee cups on sustainability?

1.6 Research Methodology

The present study follows and exploratory method of study to find answers to research questions. Here, the objectives are achieved by focusing on interpretivist philosophy or paradigm of research. Further, the study remains focused on collecting qualitative data as the research aims to explore an area associated with human behaviour and perception. It is not possible to record human behaviour in numerical form making it important to collect the required information in the form of statements and views.

Therefore, the case study method of data collection is applied to collect data in the form of statements and views. The data is collected through magazines, newspapers, company reports, previous studies and other Internet sources and remains focused on disposable and recyclable limitations associated with paper cups and the hazards and risks of using these cups in an increasing manner. The information collected through various sources help in identifying if any alternate solutions have failed to generate desired results and what customers are expecting in terms of solutions so as to bring a change in habit of using disposable paper coffee cups. The information from case studies study will help in identifying alternate solutions as well as efficient ways of bringing a change in preferences and habits of consumers to reduce usage of disposable coffee paper cups. The results of the study are analysed using literature review as the benchmark and following an inductive approach to reach the research objectives. The results obtained under the study will help in identifying certain themes that can be studied in relation to literature review directing towards finding answers to research questions.

1.7 Limitation of the Study

As in case of any other study, the present research has some limitations due to limited availability of time and resources. As the study is based only on case studies there may be issues with reliability of results without any information from actual consumers using paper coffee cups. Further the study is focused on studying preference of consumers, however, consumers may not be a position to reject the paper coffee cups due to their availability at every coffee shop. They may want to make a choice but due to non-availability of any alternative are forced to continue the usage of these coffee cups. This element is not studied in the present study acting as a limitation of the research work.

1.8 Chapter Plan

The present study comprise of six major chapters listed as follows:

Introduction: This is the first chapter discussing the research aim, objectives, questions, limitations and scope. Here an introduction to research methodology is also provided along with the detailed background to the present study.

Literature Review: This is the second chapter of the study where existing literature related to increasing popularity of paper coffee cups, risks and benefits of using these cups, perception of consumers and importance and need to focus on sustainability to identify the gap in current literature. This gap is to be filled by the results of the current study.

Research Methodology: This is the third chapter discussing the details of research philosophy, research approach, research method, research strategy and data collection methods and tools used to conduct the study.

Results of the Study: This is the fourth chapter where actual results of the study in the form of statements and views.

Analysis of Results: This is the fifth chapter where the results obtained from the case studies are analysed in relation to current literature to reach research aim and objectives. The chapter will present the identified themes to link these with literature review. The chapter answers the research questions too.

Conclusion and Recommendations: This is the final chapter of the study where the study is summarized to conclude upon achievement of aim and objectives of the study. Here, the conclusion drawn is used to provide some practical recommendations of improving sustainability, changing consumer’s habits and decreasing the usage of coffee paper cups.

Chapter 2: Literature Review

2.1 Introduction

With the last few years, there has been a tremendous increase in research studies focused on behavioural economics, psychology and persuasive technology. The present study helps in exploring the ways people take decisions in their daily life and the way these decisions shape their experiences and their environment. In order to bring in some change in consumer behaviour it is necessary to understand the way such behaviour changes and the way people perceived the environment around them. It is a complex process to change people’s behaviour or motivate them to bring a change in their habits as it includes several elements like perception, experience, stimulus, motivation, recognition, etc. Therefore, the present subject is associated with several theories and methodologies related to a variety of academic fields. The literature review presented in following sections talks about consumer behaviour, process of changing consumer behaviour and theories applicable to the subject under study. However before moving on to discuss the theoretical underpinnings, it is important to review the current literature talking about increasingly popularity of paper coffee cups and the impact of these disposable cups on environment sustainability.

2.2 Increasing popularity of paper coffee cups

The increasing demand for products and stress posed on natural resources by the increasing human population makes it necessary to develop products in a manner that they reflect sustainability (Dobers and Strannegard, 2005). Present day consumers are more aware of the environmental impact of their choices and actions and emphasize on purchases products that are promoted as being eco-friendly in nature. In order to take advantage of this new market, business organizations from across the globe are developing new products, especially in the industries of plastics and paper. Now, buyers have wide variety of choice with ‘green washing’ that refers to the perception of consumers about mislead by the organization about the environmental practices of the company or the environmental benefits of a product or service. This makes it important to understand whether sustainable products exist and what exactly is sustainability (Beck, 2007a). Here, it is to be noted that products that are of disposable nature available in the form of plates, cups or any other dishware places huge stress on environmental sustainability (Dobers and Strannegard, 2005). However, it is not possible to completely avoid such products as these have acquired the place of regular habits among people who want their food and beverages on the go (Beck (2007a). At the same time it is to be noted that there is always a need to reduce the environmental footprint of consumer habits through promoting usage of renewable and biodegradable materials in comparison to products using plastic (Callan and Thomas, 2006).

Here it is also necessary to explore the difference between biodegradable and compostable. He products that are compostable undergoes biological degradation during the process of composting that takes up to 2-3 months of times (Fisher, 2008). The process releases carbon dioxide, water, biomass and inorganic compounds in a consistent manner while avoiding any toxic residues. On the other hand, biodegradable is just one aspect of compostable that results as an action from naturally occurring microorganisms over a period of time (Callan and Thomas, 2006). There is no specific time taken to complete this process and no specific toxic residues can be noted. Now, it is well known that any product that is compostable is recyclable and can break down and restore nutrients to soil that can be used to grow crops. However, if products that are biodegradable or compostable are included in recycling, it will contaminate the line of recycling (Beck, 2007a).  However, if biodegradable products are not efficiently composted, they are littered or put into landfill resulting in potential generation of methane. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas contributing to a change in climate and 23-fold more potent than carbon dioxide (Packer, 2009). Therefore, it is extremely important to select the products that are biodegradable as well as those that are disposed in an efficient manner either in a home compost or industrial composting facility.

2.2.1 Advantages of using disposable paper coffee cups

Generally, disposable paper cups are used for three major benefits of cost, sanitation and convenience (Grishchenko, 2007).


The initial reason of introducing disposable paper cups was sanitation and it remains one of the key attractive factors even today. As explained by Felix (1990 as cited in Fisher 2008), it is the high heat exposure during the process of manufacturing that kills bacteria and makes disposables the products that are practically sterile. Additionally, they are handled less and used only once in comparison to reusable products that must be washed and dried properly after every use to ensure same level of sanitization (Felix, 1990 as cited in Fisher 2008). Another study conducted by Felix (1990 as cited in Fisher, 2008) focused on several different restaurants reports that many dishwashers fail to sanitize the ceramic dishware efficiently and sufficiently making disposables more attractive and cost-effective for cafes and restaurants. 

Cost Effective

Cost effectiveness of disposable paper cups is a major reason of choosing these over reusable cups. There are studies explaining the real cost of these cups, but in the long run these prove to be economical when compared to cost of dishwasher, labour, water and energy associate with reusable products. On the contrary, the study conducted by Starbucks and the Alliance for Environmental Innovation (2000) reports that using just ten reusable cups in a day helps in saving on huge operational cost on a yearly basis. Additionally, the price of disposable cups depends a lot on cost of paper, gasoline, energy, chemicals and labour (Riell, 2005). There are still contradictory views about the cost effective nature of disposable paper cups in comparison to reusable cups.


This is again a key factor making disposable paper cups attractive for users as well as sellers. There is no need of any premeditation or cleaning and can be easily discarded providing the convenience of carrying coffee or other beverages while travelling. There is a continuous rise in people choosing to get their drinks “to-go” in comparison to those choosing “for-here” making the disposable cups high in demand (Hocking, 1994) and Gardner and Sampat, 2010). This makes business houses and cafes to understand the need of disposables without any choice of offering an alternative to consumers.

Cost of disposable paper cups

Considering the lifecycle of a disposable cup, there are instances of pollution and excessive consumption of resources at all the stages including the harvesting of trees through the production and transportation up to disposal in a landfill (Helfrich and Sannders, 2003). There are several studies that provide an insight into the level of impact caused of these paper cups on environmental sustainability. There has been a long-standing debate about the comparative energy-efficiencies of disposable products and reusable products for consuming food and beverages. A study in this regard is the one conducted by Martin Hocking (1994) where it is reported that an individual would have to use a reusable cup as much as 1000 times for justifying the requirement of higher energy while producing the cup. However, this study omits the impact of deforestation, transportation, packaging and disposal that is necessary to provide a complete analysis about the environmental cost of disposable versus reusable cups (Hocking, 1994).

In another research work, Starbucks conducted a study along with the Alliance for Environmental Innovation to compare the two products while naming reusable products the more environment-friendly in comparison to the disposable paper cups. The results of the study explain the usage of ceramic cups to be beneficial and environment friendly while reducing the consumption of resources and pollution to an astounding extent (Alliance for Environmental Innovation, 2000). The study even included the impact of manufacturing, usage and dishwashing making it a more relevant study in comparison to earlier research works and suggest that it is economical to use reusable cups in comparison to disposable paper cups and proves to be more environment-friendly in nature.

The production as well as transportation of disposable paper coffee cups has a major role in polluting the environment by emitting carbon dioxide and other gases. Several studies have been conducted to explore the environmental impact of using paper cups and some of these studies show that the production and shipment of a single cup leads to emission of about 0.11 kilograms of carbon dioxide. Considering the fact that carbon dioxide is absorbed by tress that are also depleting, creates a double tragedy for sustainability. Also, it is argued that the potential of emitting methane lies with paper cups when these cups are decomposing. The recovery rate of these paper cups is negligible and most of these are discarded instead of recycling while a huge number of cups end up in landfills resulting in a threat to environment sustainability.

2.3 Changing of Behaviour

The process of behaviour changing is complicated and involves several different stages (Figure 1) that ensure the flow towards a possible change in behaviour. In order to bring about a change in behaviour it is necessary that people know about the need of such a change and understand the reasons why they need to be well aware and knowledgeable about the issue (Manzano, 2012). Such knowledge and awareness is based on a process of learning. As clear from the Figure 1, there is a flow of behaviour changing process divided into three different parts. The first part comprises of the learning process (including stimulus, sensory system and recorded memories), the second part (decision making and experiences about knowledge or awareness) talks about the process of motivation and the third part is finally linked to the expected change in behaviour.

Figure 1: The Behavioural Change Model

Source: Manzano, 2012

2.3.1 The process of learning

The process of learning forms the first step in the process or flow of behavioural change. This process works through a number of stimuli that may be internal as well as external, and situations where each stimulus results in a sensory system response within an individual (Michie et al., 2012). Human beings have five basic sensory stimuli namely, visual, auditory, taste, olfactory and tactile. When an individual is influenced by stimuli, the sensory system reads the stimulus and conveys the information to the brain and this refers to the memory of an individual (Manzano, 2012). Any external stimulus results in recording of stimulus by human brain in the memory storage area acting as a pathway for the storage. With new experiences, new pathways are used that is termed as short-term memory.

This makes it clear that an over required stimulus is necessary to create a working pathway. With every repetition of an experience or in case the stimulus is stronger than expected, more nerve impulses are sent along the new pathway (Manzano, 2012). This is so as repetition improves and strengthens the connection between neurons making it easy for impulses to travel along the pathway (Littell and Girvin, 2010). When repeated stimulus and experiences are given to people, their physical and mental status makes an attempt to change and understand the next step as a feedback to stimulus. In simple words, as human brain have more pathways to access; it is possible to find information from all the possible memories (Manzano, 2012). These storages and pathways in the human brain are termed as long-term memory.

Both the short-term and long-term memories have the ability of storing and retrieving information. Therefore it is necessary that any new thing is repeated many times and repeats the experience to affect the stimulus resulting in learning.

2.3.2 Process of Decision-making

The some of the steps involved in long-term and short-term memory can be explained through the multi-storey memory model. Next, there is a need to understand the way these memories are associated with behaviour of human beings. There are several complex steps involved in decision-making behaviour of individuals (Eysenck, 2010 and Littell and Girvin, 2010). If there is a command from the brain, the human mind defines whether the command is familiar and when it is familiar the execution of the action is quick and easy as it is based on the long-term memory. Such a reaction to familiar situations and stimulus forms habits of people, however, in case of some unfamiliar commands, human mind takes lot of time to decide about the possible feedback to the demand de to lack of any long-term memory storage associated with the command (Johns and Lerner, 2014).

As per the result obtained through the process of decision-making, people decide whether the behaviour should be changed or not. When a situation is applied to a model of behaviour change, there is a need to consider immediate responses as well as responses that may result after careful assessment and understanding (Eysenck, 2013 and Michie, 2012). This is so as immediate responses are based on habits of individuals, but the conscious responses are obtained as a result to some unfamiliar stimulus and situation making people to think for the possible feedback (Eysenck, 2010).

2.4 Theories of behavioural change

There are some key theories associated with a change in behaviour, including, Social Cognitive Theory, Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB), Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA), The Stages of Change (TTM) model and Trans theoretical (Stags of Change) Model (Breinbauer, 2015). These theories differ in their perspectives and needs depending upon individual’s behaviour that needs to be changed among people. In relation to current study the theory of “Study of Change” is selected to understand the process of bringing about a successful change in behaviour.  However, other three theories are also important to understand the process of consumer behaviour and decision-making.

2.4.1 Stages of Change Theory

As per the process of behaviour change, the key issue is that people are required to know more about the problem as well as pass on the solution to the issue to more and more people. Therefore, the fundamental issue lies with changing the behaviour of users and not the material of the cup while knowing the ill effects of using paper cups on environment sustainability (Breinbauer, 2015).

The stages of change theory, TTM model

The Trans theoretical Model of Change as introduced by James Prochaska  (Figure 2) is a theoretical model of behavioural change. The model forms the basis of developing effective interventions of promotion of a positive change in behaviour. The model explains the way people modify any problem behaviour and adopt a behaviour that is positive in nature (Rush, 2014). Therefore TTM model is a model of intentional change focused on individual’s decision making.

The model helps in explaining the differences in success of individual during the treatment for a range of psychological and physical health issues. The model is also used widely in the field of behavioural modification to identify techniques of such behaviour change (Rush 2014 and Breinbauer, 2015). In context of present study, each step of model is included and the stage of problem recognition and action stage is separated to find a route to identify the problem’s solution.

Each step of model

There are several different stages through which individual pass while going through a behaviour change (Rush 2014 and Greenberg et al., 2010). These stages as discussed in theory of ‘Stages of Change’ includes the following:

Figure 2: Stages of Change Theory

Source: Greenberg et al. (2010). Physical Fitness and Wellness

1. Pre-contemplation: Not ready to change

This is the first stage where the individual is not considering the change currently:

  • Validation of lack of readiness
  • Encouraging re-evaluation of present behaviour
  • Encourage self-exploration, not action
  • Risk explanation and personalization

2. Contemplation: Just thinking to bring about a change

  • Encouraging evaluating the merits and demerits of change in behaviour
  • Re-evaluating the image of the group through various activities
  • Identification and promotion of new and positive expectations from results

3. Preparation: Ready to change

At this stage individuals need some experience in order to take a trial to change:

  • There is need to encourage people to evaluate merits and demerits of behaviour change
  • There is a need for therapist to promote new and positive results of the expectations
  • Here, individuals should be made aware in groups and promote suitable action-oriented programs like quit usage of paper cups, carrying personal cups, etc.

4. Action: Making change

This is the stage where the desired behaviour change is expected after an active work or some important actions undertaken to modify experiences, environment and behaviour of individuals. Here, individuals have made specific overt modifications in their life-styles and should be provided support to avoid any relapse

  • Help people to restructure cues and social support
  • Improving self-efficacy to manage obstacles
  • Supporting to guard against feelings of loss and frustration

5. Maintenance: Staying on track

The focus of this step is on making the active work continuous for maintaining changes and preventing relapse. Here people are less tempted to relapse and focus on continuing with the changed behaviour.

  • There is a need to provide follow-up support
  • Internal rewards should be reinforced
  • Discussions on coping with relapse is necessary

2.4.2 Theory of Planned Behaviour

The theory of planned behaviour is a popular socio-psychological model that helps in understanding and predicting behaviour of human beings (Figure 3). Under this model the immediate antecedent of a particular behaviour is the “intention” for performing a specific behaviour under study. This intention is identified through three kinds of beliefs where the first is “behavioural beliefs”, second is “normative beliefs” and third is “control beliefs” (Rush, 2014). The term “behavioural beliefs” means the perceived position or negative results of performing the behaviour and the subjective value of such consequences. When behavioural beliefs considered in totality as readily accessible in the memory, the result is the formation of a positive or negative attitude toward the behaviour (Christian and Armitage, 2015). The second belief is related to perceived expectations and behaviours of some key individuals or groups that when combined with positive motivation of an individual comply with the referents in consideration (Rush, 2014). These are normative beliefs and such beliefs when easily or readily accessible in the memory results in a perceived social pressure or subjective norm in relation to particular consumer behaviour. Finally, there are control beliefs that are associated with the perceived presence of factors influencing the abilities of an individual for performing the behaviour (Rush, 2014). Together with the perceived power of these elements for facilitation of behaviour performance, readily accessible control beliefs are capable of producing a certain degree of perceived behavioural control as associated with the behaviour.

The theory of planned behaviour says that more the attitudes are favourable in relation to engaging in the behaviour, and greater is the perceived control; there is greater chances for individuals forming an intention of performing the behaviour in question (Cohn and Russell, 2012). Additionally, performance of the behaviour is lead by intentions that too up to the extent that people are capable of maintain and doing so. Therefore, in this particular model, we can expect a moderate impact from perceived actual behavioural control.

2.4.3 Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA)

The theory of planned behaviour is considered as the extension to theory of reasoned action (TRA) that forms the basis of a behavioural change that depends upon increased awareness among people (Figure 4). This makes the theory of reasoned action and planned behaviour important for the present study where the focus is on exploring the level of awareness and perception of people in relation to impact of using disposable paper coffee cups.

Source: Macovei, O.I. (2015). Applying the Theory of Planned Behaviour

This particular theory is based on the belief that behaviour of an individual is a positive function of his or her behavioural intention to perform the behaviour. As per the theory, there is a need to consider the attitude towards the act of buying or using a product instead of focusing on the product itself (Macovei, 2015). Such a focus helps in understanding and prediction of consumer behaviour that forms the first step towards bringing any change in consumer buying habits. In this model, the key factor is the intention of people to engage in a given behaviour, and therefore, behavioural intentions are associated with attitudes and subjective norms (Fishbein and Ajzen, 1975). It is also suggested that the determinants are beliefs that are held by people about the environment and about themselves. Such beliefs are considered as the basis of attitudes and subjective norms of an individual that act as a guide to identify the intentions of people in general. Therefore, the model explains that the behaviour is influenced by the intention and this intention is influenced by the attitude and the subjective norm.

Additionally, the implementation intentions can be used to replace bad habits with good ones. This is evident from a study conducted by Holland et al (2006 as cited in Haddock and Maio, 2014) to test habit replacement leading to more recycling in a workplace environment. The study confirms that implementation intention condition have positive influence on behaviour of individuals leading to adoption of new habits and a real change in behaviour. Similarly, Holland et al. (2006 as cited in Haddock and Maio, 2014) found that that developing an implementation intention is successful in breaking the bad habits and replacing them with good habits. This study and other similar research work played a key role in determining the way habitual behaviours influence future behaviours.

2.4.4 Social Cognitive Theory

Social cognitive theory as developed by Bandura (1986) focus on explaining the reason of people’s behaviour. The model is used widely for understanding and predicting behaviour of individuals as well as groups. As per the theory, the individual behaviour is considered as a reciprocity comprising of personal elements, behaviour and the environment (Ayotte, 2007). Individuals select the environments where they exist in addition to being influenced by the factors of social pressure and unique situations. Additionally, in a particular situation, behaviour is influenced by the environmental factors that in turn are affected by the behaviour (Flower, 1994). The last reciprocal interaction is that individual’s cognition and personal factors influence the behaviour that in turn affects these factors. Therefore, there lies a triadic reciprocal interaction as depicted in the following figure (Figure 5).

Figure 5: Social cognitive or social learning theory

Source: Ayotte, B.J. (2007). Using the Social Cognitive Theory to Investigate Physical Activity

There are five different assumptions made under social cognitive theory: people learn by observing others; learning is an internal process that may or may not lead to a change in behaviour; there is mutual influential relationship between individuals and their environment; behaviour is directed towards specific objectives; and behaviour increasingly becomes self-regulated. The theorists of social cognition believes that people learn by watching and observing others making it important to create some role models of expected behaviours to generate expected behaviour among people. However, it is to be noted that learning is more complicated that this single assumption of observation and therefore there are several positive as well as negatives to social cognitive behaviour.

In other words, social cognitive theories studies the individual within a social or cultural context while focusing on the way individuals perceive and interpret information generated by them (intrapersonal) and that by others (interpersonal).

The theory is applicable in several different fields like public health services, ethical behaviour, consumer behaviour, etc. The key element here is the self-efficacy that means the belief about an individual’s ability to achieve a particular behaviour. This element is capable of influencing the choices related to types of behaviours that are acceptable, the effort and persistence exerted in the face of obstacles to the performance of those behaviours and thus mastery of the behaviours.

2.5 CSR motives

The initiatives undertaken by companies to reduce the use of disposable coffee cups or making recycling possible are associated with the CSR commitment and initiatives. Here, it is important to understand the motives of business organizations to engage with CSR activities that are possible by exploring the ‘Three Domain Approach’ model (Schwartz and Carroll, 2003). The approach was popularly known as ‘Pyramid of Corporate Social Responsibility’ that is refined on the basis of some critical constraints as identified by different researchers and scholars (Figure 6).

Figure 6: The Three-Domain Model of Corporate Social Responsibility

Source: Schwartz and Carroll (2003). Corporate Social Responsibility: A Three-Domain Approach

The ‘Three Domain model comprise of three key areas of responsibility: economic, legal and ethical. Here the economic domain is associated with the motive of profitability including the activities intended to have a direct or indirect positive economic impact on the organization (Figure 1). This can be considered in relation to maximization of shareholder value and profitability of the company. However, such impact is generally indirect in nature and is less definable. This is because it can arise from activities directed to improve company’s goodwill leading to a rise in sales, or activities focused on improving the relationship with suppliers and other members of the value-chain leading to improvement in quality of products and services offered by the company. Therefore, CSR initiatives can be considered directed at achieving the motives of economic benefit. However, this approach is no longer enough and several contemporary scholars explains the need of finding an integrated approach to link economic benefit with the impact of operations on stakeholders and the societies. It is not advised to remain limited to economic benefit derived from CSR activities but moving beyond to include the focus that can help in maintaining the legitimacy of company’s operations (Waddock, 2012; Marrewijk, 2013).

Further, it is legal domain where the motive is to obey the law and refers to the responsiveness of the company to comply with legal expectations associated with different standards. Here the standards of waste, resources, working conditions, products, services, packaging, suppliers, etc. are included. Governments, NGOs and other regulatory bodies as associated generally validate the standards of sustainability operations with the company (Waller and Conaway, 2011).

Finally, it is the ethical domain where the motive is to sustain legitimization. It is related to the ethical responsibility of the company towards the environment. This responsibility is the aggregated societal expectations from all the stakeholders (internal, external, active and passive), and therefore is the highly complex element of CSR activities. The domain is the route to explain the insufficiency of economic domain for the organizations aiming to sustain their legitimacy. There is always a motive to maximize profitability and increase shareholder value, but it is also necessary that the business organizations incorporate and makes salient the ethical and legal domain in its strategy associated with CSR for complying with the expectations of the society as a whole.

2.6 Summary

The extensive literature review conducted in previous sections and sub-sections clarifies the impact of disposable paper coffee cups on environmental sustainability. It is important for people to understand the difference between biodegradable and compostable nature of products and the way these have a less negative impact on sustainability in comparison to long-lasting disposable products. It is the manufacturing as well as transportation along with usage of disposable cups that proves to be hazardous in terms of sustainability. However, it is not enough to create awareness and make people informed about such risks and hazards. It is also necessary to understand that there are two types of coffee consumers; where the first group is interested in enjoying the drink with the coffee shop or café while the other group wants the orders to go. Those interested in carrying their beverage along are the major consumers or users of disposable paper coffee cups. There is a need of bringing a complete change in habits of people to reduce the usage of disposable paper cups and adopt alternative material for consumption of drinks. There are four key models namely theory of planned behaviour, theory of reasoned action, theory of social learning and stages of change theory that can help in developing a comprehensive research framework for the present study. The application of these models clarifies the need of bringing a change in behaviour of consumers that should start with exploring people’s perception and awareness about the impact of disposable paper cups on environment. Such identification will further guide towards brining a change in behaviour and preferences of consumers by applying the theory of Stages of change to motivate people to change their habits of using paper coffee cups. The literature review presented in this chapter forms the basis of analysis of collected data as it helps in generating themes and studying these themes in relation to results obtained under the research.

Chapter 3: Research Methodology

3.1 Introduction

Every research work is based on some underlying philosophical assumptions related to validity of the study and applicability of methods of research as appropriate to the development of knowledge in a particular study. Therefore, for conducting and evaluating any study, it is necessary to understand what are these assumptions and how the selected research methodology can be justified as being appropriate to the study is consideration. This chapter discusses the philosophical assumptions and the strategies, approach, methods, data collection, instruments and analysis methods used at various stages to find answers to research questions.

3.2 Research Paradigm

As per the view of Terre and Durrheim (2006), the process of research has three important dimensions, namely, ontology, epistemology and methodology. The paradigm of research is an all-encompassing system of practices that are interrelated defining the nature of enquiry along these three dimensions. Basically the term ‘paradigm’ refers to the conceptual framework shared by a community of scientists providing them a model to examine issues and finding solutions in a convenient manner. Here, a paradigm refers to a pattern, structure and framework of scientific and academic ideas, values and assumptions (Olsson et al., 2003). The aspects of ontology and epistemology are related to the individual’s worldview influencing the perceived relative importance of the aspects of reality. These paradigms are complementary in nature where ontology focus on what is the nature of existence while epistemology focus on the process or way of knowing things. Therefore, the current study makes use of both the elements to understand the objective as well as constructive view of seeing the situation and behaviour of individuals in relation to use of paper coffee cups and environmental sustainability.

Further, the research paradigm guides towards selection of a research philosophy that can be positivist, interpretivist or critical postmodernist in nature. Under the philosophy of positivist, it is assumed that human behaviour can be best studied through observation and reasoning while true knowledge is based on experience of senses and obtained through observation and experimentation. Further, the philosophy of interpretivist believes that reality comprise of the subjective experience of people in relation to external world and therefore adopt an inter-subjective epistemology and the ontological belief that “reality is socially constructed” (Wilson, 2011). The paradigm of interpretivist is underpinned by observation and interpretation and therefore to observe is to collect information about events, while to interpret is associated with making meaning of collected information through inferences drawn under the analysis. In other words, under this paradigm the focus is on understanding the phenomenon as per the meanings assigned by people to the phenomenon.

This paradigm is selected from the present study as it helps in understanding the phenomenon through subjective experiences of individuals. Here, meaning oriented methodologies are used where variables are not predefined while the focus remains on complexities of human behaviour and sense making in care of particular situation under study (Leedy and Ormrod, 2009).

3.3 Research Approach

The present study is conducted using qualitative approach to research that is informed by the work of Denzin and Lincoln (2000; 2005) and Van Maanen (1998). Qualitative research is considered to be a study that is multi-types in nature and uses and interpretive and realistic approach towards its subject matter as well as focus on the entity’s qualities (i.e., processes and meaning occurring naturally) (Denzin and Lincoln (2005). Qualitative analysis is considered to be the analysis of data collected through interviews and transcripts that depends highly on the analytic and integrative skills of the researcher and is influenced by researcher’s personal knowledge of the social context where the data is collected (Bhattacherjee, 2012).

Moreover, the suitability of qualitative research is considered in studies focused on occurrences and individual behaviour occurring naturally and supported by social meaning from the people subjected to the behaviour or occurrence (Denzin and Lincoln, 2005). Van Mannen (1998) described qualitative research as “particularly difficult to pin down” due to its “flexibility and emergent character” as it is generally designed at the same time as it is being done calling for judgements of individual that are highly contextualised in nature. It is explained by Denzin and Lincoln (2000) that qualitative research is the best route to find answers to questions associated with creation of social experiences and the way people give meanings to such experiences, which then created illustrations of the experience within a specific environment ensuring visibility of that experience.

In the current study the research paradigm drives and leads towards qualitative approach to research under an interpretive paradigm. This is so as the focus is on exploring and understanding the reasons of consumer behaviour towards preferring paper coffee cups that calls for an approach that is holistic allowing exploration of complex situations. This kind of approach will emphasize on subjective interpretations of the study results associated with social thinking and behaviour. In the present study the information collected through magazines, reports, previous studies and other Internet sources are considered as the text that needs to be analysed in a qualitative manner. The method is focused on “drawing inferences from data through systematic identification of characteristics within the data” (Clatworthy and Jones, 2001: 317). The analysis of text helps in making inferences through objective and systematic identification of special messages, experiences and behaviour (Holsti, 1998).  Text analysis is considered general, objective, scientific and systematic method that is continuously dominant for conducting analysis of stand-alone social and environmental information (Leedy and Ormrod, 2009). It is a method successful used to conduct studies focused on answering questions related to consumer behaviour and marketing and therefore is suitable for the current study too. As Merkl-Davies et al. (2011) argues, the aim of text analysis is to “achieve objectivity and in order to ensure rigor, text analysis is carried out according to strict procedures.”

3.4 Research Strategy and Design

The design of a research work is thought of as the logic or master plan of the study explaining the way research is actually undertaken. It explains all major parts of the study like population, sample, sampling method, measures, sources of information, etc.

It is to be noted that the strategy of research can be exploratory, descriptive, explanatory or casual in nature. As Saunders et al. (2009) argues, a proper strategy of study is a guide or plan directing the researcher to look for specific answers to questions of the study. The strategy of descriptive study is focused on identifying facts associated with a field of study that is defined in clear terms. However, the exploratory strategy of research is suitable where little information is available and the study needs to be conducted in a less structured format (Saunders et al., 2009).

The present research is following an exploratory method of study where the required data is collected through various sources of information. Bhattacherjee (2012) explains that exploratory research suits the areas where the focus is on explore the magnitude of a particular behaviour, occurrence or issue. This type of study generates some initial ideas about the occurrences or behaviour and the feasibility of an extensive study can be tested on the basis of such occurrences.

Here the required data is collected through sources like magazines, newspapers, and previous studies on similar topics, various Internet sources, company reports and journal articles. Acquiring information from such different sources helps in making use of multiple methods of data collection and get perception and experience of customers, sellers, manufacturers, environmentalists, and those involved in recycling and disposal of paper coffee cups. While in case of exploratory study, the data collection often remains less structured, the present study follows a structure where the data is collected and categorised under some important themes, namely, perception of customers, knowledge about sustainability, knowledge about disposal issue with paper coffee cups, perception about use of alternatives and factors influencing customer behaviour.

Here, it is to be noted that the methodology and paradigm of research are independent even while complementing the work of researchers. A research based on qualitative data may or may not be interpretive and depends upon the underlying philosophical assumptions of the researcher making the study positivist, critical or interpretive in nature. Thus, the choice of qualitative approach is independent of the underlying philosophical position of interpretivism as adopted in the current study.

3.5 Data Analysis    

The data analysis under qualitative studies is based on direct interpretations of the observations and experiences as reported by the subjects. The present study is based on data or information that is collected and categorised under some pre-defined themes as derived from the research objectives. This helps in discovering patterns, concepts and meanings of qualitative data making the data manageable directing towards searching of patterns. Categorisations help in making comparisons and contrast between patterns reflecting on certain complex issues and patterns of the data. Further, the data categorised under the themes is benchmarked with the arguments presented in literature review to direct towards finding answers to research questions. Such an approach to data analysis helps in collection and analysis of data driving each other making higher level of information synthesis possible. Here an iterative cycle is repeated leading to concrete answers to research questions through continuous revisions and checking.

3.6 Research Evaluation: trustworthiness of the study

Traditionally, the criteria of research credibility lies in objectivity, reliability and validity and are limited to experimental studies as these are based on instruments that are standardized generating standard results in a straightforward manner. However, in case of qualitative studies the focus is on continuous and non-random samples instead of using some standardized instruments (Saunders et al. 2009) like scale. Thus, the criteria of evaluation cannot be applied to qualitative paradigm in a strict manner. Moreover, in the current study, the research is more interested in understanding the perception and interpreting behaviour of people making it important to ensure trustworthiness of the results. As argued by Creswell (1998), “the trustworthiness of qualitative research can be established by using four strategies: credibility, transferability, dependability and conformability, and are constructed parallel to the analogous quantitative criteria of internal and external validity, reliability and neutrality.”

In the current study, using information through reliable sources and providing proper acknowledgement of these sources ensure the credibility of data.  Further, detailing of the settings studied offering detailed information to judge applicability of the findings in other known settings ensures transferability.  Additionally, throughout the study the research maintain sensitivity to possible biases by remaining conscious of any possibilities associated with multiple interpretations of the perception of consumers. Further, there is a need to ensure dependability that is analogous to reliability or consistency of results. It is practically difficult to ensure reliability in case of human behaviour studies, as it is highly contextual while changing continuously depending upon several internal and external factors. In case of qualitative studies, reliability is determined through examining the consistency of results in relation to the collected data. Therefore, instead of ensuring reliability or dependability in its traditional sense, the present study explains the assumptions and theories considered before starting the study use several sources of data collection and provides detailed explanation of methods used to collect data. Finally, the element of conformability refers to the degree to which others can corroborate the results of the study. It is analogous to objectivity and associated to the extent to which a researcher is considering the individual bias. In the current study, all collected information is maintained in well-organized and retrievable format so as to allow any audit of data in case the results of the research are challenged.

3.6 Future Plan

In the next chapter the results of the case studies are discussed to understand the initiatives taken by Starbucks and Costa Coffee towards reducing the usage of disposable paper cups. Along with exploring these cases some information is also presented about the consumer behaviour and perception about usage of paper cups as depicted in previous studies and recent newspaper and magazine articles. This detailed information will help in defining the themes associated with consumer behaviour in relation to usage of paper cups and identifying the course of action so as to bring a change in habits of people along with the various elements and actors involved in the process of such behavioural change.

Chapter 4: Results of the study

4.1  Case Studies

Here two case studies are selected: Starbucks and Costa Coffee. These industry giants hold a majority of market share in coffee chain industry of the UK markets. This makes these companies more responsible of their operations and focused on sustainability issues that may arise out of their operations. While this may not be the case with small players in the industry and therefore, it is necessary to explore the initiatives, associations and research and development undertaken by these big players to ensure sustainability.  Additionally, these big players invest heavily in the research and development activities that make them an obvious choice to understand the trends that they introduce in the market that are followed by the small players in future.

4.1.1 Starbucks Sustainability Issues and Initiatives

Starbucks is a popular coffee house operating on a global level with more than 300 company-owned stores in the United Kingdom, Australia, Thailand, Asia, Europe, Middle East, Africa and Latin America. Starbucks is focused on creating an experience to integrate the tight and busy schedule of customers along with providing them a place where they can relax (Lee, 2015). The company focus the ambience of stores in a way that people want to stay there and spend some time in relaxation while having a cup of coffee (Starbucks, 2012). Coming to the use of paper coffee cups, Starbucks reported that the difference in recycling infrastructure across the world makes it impossible to define an approach in ‘one size-fits-all’ manner as the company is operating in various different countries, regions and cities (Starbucks, 2012).

Considering the corporate website of Starbucks in relation to CSR commitment, it is found that the company has separate sections describing responsibilities towards different stakeholders. These stakeholders include Community, Diversity and Wellness, Ethical sourcing and Environment. The initiatives are focused on making and supporting connections in communities across the globe to make a positive impact. The company engages in ethical sourcing from farmers while maintaining the quality of beans as well as ensure creating a better future for farmers. Further, Starbucks focus on finding innovative ways to minimize the environmental impact of company’s operations. These innovative ways are identified through continuous research and development conducted by the company in association with other sustainable partners. The focus is on recycling, saving energy and water, green building initiatives and tackle climate change. Other initiatives of Starbucks emphasize on diversity among people and ideas to create better opportunities to learn and achieve success for the benefit of customers, employees as well as suppliers.

The commitment of the company in relation to environmental stewardship includes development of more environmentally friendly cups while working towards expansion of the recycling program in an effort to reduce the waste created by café operations. In relation to this particular commitment the cafes of Starbucks offers commercial recycling facilities within the stores while focusing on the initiatives that can be worked with others to make recycling easier for consumers as well as for companies.

Starbucks have launched several initiatives over the years focused on reducing the environmental impact of disposable cups. In this regard, the recycled-content cup sleeve was introduced in the year 1997 for protecting people from hot beverages and avoiding “double cupping”.  Then in the year 2006, Starbucks introduced industry’s first hot beverage paper cup with 10% post-consumer recycled fiber followed by a new plastic cup with less environmental impact in the year 2008. Further, in the year 2009, the company hosted a Cup Summit in Seattle to bring along all facets of the paper and plastic cup value chain for identifying the criteria of agreement for a comprehensive recyclable solution for the disposable cups.

Starbucks also lobby with local government to increase the commercial recycling opportunities across regions. It collaborates with other sustainable partners to explore new ways of reducing the usage of disposable coffee cups.

The company has proven that used cups can be accepted in several recycling systems and several efforts are being made to bring this into scale in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Germany. Starbucks made significant efforts towards developing material as well as infrastructure solutions in additional markets so as to make access to recycling of cups possible for every customer (Lee, 2015). These efforts involve a collaborative effort of nongovernmental organizations, policy designers, competitors and other stakeholders so as to tackle major issues and challenges associated with the achievement of recycling objective (Starbucks Corporation, 2016).

It is to be noted that the preference of customers to take beverages on the go makes it important for the stores to focus on recycling as a key part of organization’s efforts for developing comprehensive solutions of recycling. Starbucks initiated the opportunities of in-store recycling during the year 2008. It was in the stores of United States and Canada that the company started offering front-of-store to conduct the process of recycling (Starbucks Corporation, 2012). Of these locations, 94% were able to recycle the hot cup and the company aims to expand the idea to international markets to achieve the objective (Lee, 2015).

It was in the year 2012 when Starbucks confirmed that markets like Germany and the United Kingdom have effective recycling solutions in place, even if they do not include front-of-store recycling canisters. For instance, the store waste in the United Kingdom is segregated into three streams in the back of the Starbucks stores and then later separated at the waste facility (Lee, 2015). In the stores of UK there is approximately 50% of waste diverting from landfills because of this method of segregation where Starbucks continuously makes research in the different processes and procedures that can help in increasing this percentage (Starbucks, 2014).

Through this solution leveraging from different markets across the globe, Starbucks is able to build capabilities in markets newer to recycling. It is to be noted that it is a priority to work on the basis of back-of-store recycling method, as a majority of the in-store waste is generated behind the counter (Kamenetz, 2010). During the year 2012, around 78% of the 3,178 stores of Starbucks located in the United States and Canada where the company has the responsibility of making waster removal services available, recycled the cardboard boxes and other items (Shankleman, 2013). The remaining retail locations of Starbucks located in the United States and Canada reported the limitations in the form of operational impasses, such as lack of space in the store to recycle carts or the unavailability of commercial recycling services. The company to resolve such barriers and achieve the goal of recycling conducts some significant research (Starbucks, 2014).

The overall waste reduction strategy of Starbucks comprise of reusable coffee cups as a key component. Historically, Starbucks maintains the policy of rewarding the customers with a discount when they bring in personal cups; the goals of the company is to serve 5% of the beverages made in its stores in cups and cups brought in by the customers.  However, several reports claim that the number of customers choosing reusable cups remains flat when compared in any two years of operations.

Starbucks even makes considerable efforts towards sustainability by launching bespoke bins across 20 of its London outlets, for encouraging ‘street to store’ disposal ensuring disposal of single-use cups that are recycled regardless of branding.

The above discussion clarifies that Starbucks focus to pursue several eco-friendly projects and a number of indicators shows that the company is able to approach its goals related to recycling and reducing the impact on environment. However, they are unable to control the usage of paper cups, as customers still prefer to get their coffee in disposable cups. Therefore, along with the efforts from Starbucks, there is a need to bring a change in behaviour of customers.

4.1.2 Costa Coffee Sustainability Issues and Initiatives

Costa Coffee from Whitebread Company is a popular coffee store in the United Kingdom. The Company operates with a focus on customer wellbeing by making them aware of the best choices and alternatives available (Whitebread, 2014). The products and services offered by the company aims to deliver consistently high standards of quality. Therefore a major aim is to ensure that with the growth and development of the organization, it is possible to reduce the carbon footprint of Costa and minimise its energy usage water consumption and production of waste. To achieve these aims, Costa continuously invests in refurbishing its existing estate with energy efficient building materials and equipment (Whitebread, 2014).

Recently in the United Kingdom, Costa launched a nationwide cup-recycling scheme where customers are encouraged to leave or return their used cups for storage at back of house for recycling. Costa makes some significant efforts to manage the sustainability issues associated with use of paper cups by focusing on recycling as well as curbing the overuse of disposable cups (Goulding, 2017).

The stores of the company across the nation provide the option of leaving the used cups for recycling. However, Costa gives an incentive when the customers bring their own reusable coffee cups of a suitable size and a secure lid. They are offered 25p off on any of their handcrafted hot or cold drinks (Ackers, 2017). Costa is committed to minimization of waste and recycling wherever possible (Smither, 2016). There is a commercial benefit here as it such efforts help the company to reduce operational costs from rises in landfill tax. The company works with its partner Veolia Environmental Services to continuously improve the recycling efforts and achievement improvements in reduction of waste (Bruce, 2014 and Whitebread, 2014). It has been successful in achieving 100% success in diverting waste it produced from landfill. Moreover, the recyclable cups used in Costa are double lines, stopping the habit of double cupping thereby reducing the usage of paper cups by 10% (Ackers, 2017).

With the view of engaging stakeholders in the sustainability initiatives, Costa Coffee focus on engaging employees and consumers to public citizens. The company entered into a strategic alliance with Rainforest Alliance in the year 2008 with the commitment to ensure sustainable sourcing of raw material (Costa, 2016). Further, employees are considered the important element ensuring sustainability of operations, therefore, consistent communication between sustainability and marketing teams is ensured to every success associated with sustainability. This makes the communication with consumers about sustainability easy and less complex encouraging frequent engagement between stakeholders and marketing teams to identify innovative sustainability projects that are initiated and communicated in an efficient manner (Costa, 2017). The reason of a focus on stakeholder engagement comes from the idea that the company alone cannot do everything as it can hamper the focus and timing of the initiatives. Therefore, partnering with sustainability organizations makes it easy and efficient to communicate the messages and promoting sustainable practices through reducing use of disposable cups while making recycling options viable across regions (Costa, 2016).

According to a report published in the year 2010, the CSR initiatives undertaken by Costa Coffee are the least sustainable among the competitors in the industry (Reynolds, 2010). The company holds a sustainability policy that is focused on reducing its carbon footprint, but the practical initiatives falls short of the expectations in terms of sustainability efforts. However, recent steps taken by the company to focus on practical ways of ensuring sustainability have changed the situation. The leading self-serve coffee bar of UK is dedicated to define practical tools for implementing and responding to changing conditions of the environment. Every aspect of Costa Express follows the application of measures with focus on efficient measures of reducing energy usage and optimising the use of resources like water. Further, the company is committed to take a lead in recycling of disposable cups and finding a cup that can be recycled anywhere. Recently, Costa supported Hubbub Square Mile Challenge in April 2017 where several businesses and Hubbub will introduced coffee cup recycling facilities across the city in London (Costa, 2016). The Company also works in collaboration with the ‘Paper Cup Manifesto’ to continuously review, research, make significant investments and identify innovative methods of design cups and find a long term, sustainable solution to the complex issue of using disposable cups.

During the year 2016, Costa Coffee launched a recycling scheme in all its stores ensuring recycling of as many as possible of its own takeaway cups (Smither, 2016). With the aim of reducing the impact of using disposable cups on landfills, the coffee chain aims to encourage customers to leave or return their cups to Costa store where these are stores on a bespoke rack. The company works in collaboration with sustainability partner ‘Veolia’ to transport the waste to special processing plants and getting the coffee cups recycled.

Another key initiative from Costa comes in the form of the partnership between Closed Loop Environmental Solutions and Simply Waste Solutions providing paper-cup manufacturers, supply chain members and the beverage and hospitality outlets to ensure cost-efficient services of collection and recycling (Bruce, 2014). This partnership named as ‘Simply Cups’ focus on reducing the cost of operations and bring in improvement in the environmental credentials of the companies. Costa Coffee has joined the Simply Cups paper cup recover scheme with the aim of exploring innovative methods required for a holistic approach towards a sustainable life cycle of the cups used in its stores. The company has also launched a new cup designed to reduce the apparent temperature of the exterior of the cup by evenly distributing the heat around the cup (Image 1). These cups are made from sustainable wood pulp from forests in northern Europe. This will ensure that customers’ hands do not get too hot while holding a single cup, which eliminates the need of double cupping. Costa strives to continuously look for innovative and collaborative efforts to reduce the use of disposable cups and the impact of its operations of the environment (Qureshi, 2017).

Image 1: Costa Coffee Cup evenly distributing heat

The efforts of the company goes beyond the basis recycling focus to look for innovative ways of reducing the usage of paper cups and bringing a change in consumer perception of using only disposable paper cups for coffee on the go. Moreover, Costa enters into various alliances and offers opportunities to partner franchise to get most of the waste recycled with the aim of achieving zero waste landfill by 2017. This goal is achieved by collaborating with cup manufacturer to innovate a cup using lesser amount of resources while being commercially attractive to waste recyclers.

4.2 Sustainability Issues associated with use of paper coffee cups

Sustainability is undoubtedly the single biggest challenge for the human race. Climate change, depletion of resources, biodiversity loss and the build-up of persistent toxic chemicals show that we are rubbing up against the natural limits of the planet (Hopewell et al., 2010). In the light of these existential threats, it is necessary to focus on sustainability issues as created by the use of paper coffee cups.

Several issues are associated with the use of paper coffee cups as it influences the sustainability of our environment. Typical paper coffee cups are not made from recycled paper and it is 100% bleached virgin paperboard that is used o make coffee cups (North and Halden, 2013). This is so as recycled paper pulp is not allowed by FDA regulations to come in direct contact with food and beverages. Additionally, recycled paper is not strong enough to hold a liquid. Starbucks experimented with a variety of coffee cups made out of recycled paper during 1990’s that failed because of flimsy nature of these cups that leaked the contents (Starbucks Corporation, 2012). Therefore from 2007, Starbucks began using cups made from 10% post-consumer materials and 90% from composed of new paper (Starbucks Corporation, 2012).

During the process of manufacturing paper cups, these are laminated with a plastic resin called polyethylene. This material helps in avoiding leakage of warn liquids preventing paper from absorbing and leaking the coffee. This plastic material cannot be recycled but is used, as it is light weighted, strong, impact resistant and naturally colourless with a high transparency acting as a moisture barrier (Singh and Kumar, 2016). However, this plastic coating the important reason why disposable paper cups are not completely disposable. Every cup manufactured and coated with plastic resin ends up in a landfill where paper begins to decompose. The process of decomposition releases methane that is a greenhouse gas with 23 times the heat-trapping power of carbon dioxide (Kane, 2014). The process of manufacturing disposable paper cups is extremely resource intensive in nature. This is so as paper cup manufacturing requires harvesting of trees and using machines to turn the wood into wood chips. These chips are washed heavily to remove any dirt and them mixed with more water for processing. The resulting product is the paper pulp that is dried and the fibres are together pressed to form a paper and them a paper cup. This complete procedure calls for a substantial amount of water energy, other resources along with huge number of trees (Shah et al., 2012).

Another important reason is that disposable coffee cups consists of polysterene that is responsible to affect health of human beings. It is proven to be material that can cause cancer in different animal species by attacking the central nervous system through the neurotoxin exhibited by the products using Polystyrene. When this material comes in contact with hot beverages, it can emit toxins partially that are absorbed by human tissues and bloodstream posing an immense heath risk to consumers of coffee (NIU Dep. Biological Science, 2014 as cited in Lee, 2015). Therefore, it is important the people understand the impact of disposable cups not only on the environment and animals, but also on the health of consumers.

The environmental and sustainability issues associated with usage of paper cups are accentuated only by the widespread use of these cups by coffee drinkers. Considering the big size of coffee industry, it is difficult to identify how many disposable coffee cups are used on an annual basis. However, this usage is increasing every year resulting in a great impact on environmental sustainability (Potting and Harst, 2015). On the contrary, manufacturing of reusable cups creates a bigger impact on environment in comparison to disposable paper cups. However, this impact of usable cups decreased over time when the cups is reused as each of these cups has a breaking point where it becomes more environmentally friendly than a paper cup (Kane, 2014).

Apart from these issue a major challenge is posed by the difference in coffee cups as manufactured and used by different coffee houses. Among these different coffee cups, some are made from compostable, plant-based material while some from polystyrene and others from paper coated with wax. Additionally, it is the cardboard sleeve along with the cup and the lid that is generally made from recyclable plastic (Singh and Kumar, 2016).

4.3 User’s awareness about the issue of sustainability

Several studies conducted to explore the awareness of consumers about the issues of sustainability explains that generally consumers demonstrate some level of environmental awareness and are expected to welcome being steered towards using sustainable alternative to paper cups. However, a majority of people remains unaware about the non-disposable nature of paper coffee cups. They consider paper cups to be disposable, as these are made up of paper but widely remains unaware of the resin coating that makes these cups filling the landfill instead of complete recycling. A study conducted by Fisher (2008) focused on coffee vendors and consumers of a company explains that coffee vendors and uses both largely remain unaware of the issues related to recycling of paper cups. Additionally, widespread locations of such coffee vendors make it challenging for the operator to curtail the use of paper cups. The study explains that consumers are quiet positive about making an effort to reduce the issues of beverage cup wastage but they do not make coffee vendor choice based on the focus of vendor on sustainability (Ciciriello et al., 2016).

Some other studies conducted on similar issues reveals that the social attitudes towards consumers’ responsibility for environment sustainability tend to be positive in nature (Braw, 2014; Wang et al., 2014 and Wu, 2014). It is true that consumers of hot beverages taking it upon themselves to ensure the availability of reusable cups may, in some cases be accepting the pragmatic burden. However, in wider terms, the perception remains that the cost of time and energy are compensated for by tangible and intangible benefits. It should be taken care that no compromise is made in the value and the motivating force of intangible like improved self-perception and a sense of achieving an ethical behaviour completely. Largely people remains unaware of the concept of sustainability and the associated issues that needs their attention and efforts.

It is also important to understand the reasons of disposable paper cups being so popular among coffee sellers and consumers. The factors of being easy to use, convenient to handle, easy to dispose off and avoiding the burden of cleaning the cups make these disposable cups so popular. Moreover, there is a cost factor associated making these cups inexpensive, lightweight and durable making them preferred choice for consumers as well as the café owners. These cups are lightweight making it easy for people to carry them around as per their wish as they are packaged in a convenient way.

However, the level of awareness about sustainability improves because of the efforts made by business organizations like Starbucks and Costa Coffee. The sustainability campaigns and programs initiated by such organizations are necessary for increasing awareness about sustainability and the need to maintain it by bringing a change in consumer habits of using various sustainable products and services.

4.4 Consumer behaviour in relation to use of paper coffee cups

Some studies conducted to explore and understand consumer behaviour in relation to use of paper coffee cups reveals that consumers are willing to try carrying their coffee cups and the key reason is the price change (Ciciriello et al., 2016; Gagnon et al., 2013 and Wang, 2014). However, price change or charging for disposable cups does not make a difference for a majority of customers and they remain indifferent to such changes introduced to reduce the use of disposable cups. There remains a moderate approval of adding a price to a disposable cup and customers are generally ready to pay for it.

However, when they are given information about the environmental impact of using disposable cups, people seems to be willing to carry their coffee cups and use more of reusable cups (Ciciriello et al., 2016 and Gagnon et al., 2013). Some studies focused on analysing customer behaviour while they get their coffee to go and when they are sitting down and enjoying their java in a café should be considered and quoted here. These studies reveal that educating people about increasing the use of reusable cups and reducing disposable cup consumption should come from the café staff members (Wang, 2014 and Wals, 2012). It is important that people who want to enjoy coffee sitting at the café are not served the coffee in disposable cups. Therefore, educating cafes on paper cup consumption and its effects holds key importance in transferring the benefits and habits to the consumer (Hopewell, 2012).

Here, only the behaviour of consumers as the major target is not enough to achieve the goals of sustainability. It is necessary that the change comes from the cafes itself and transferred to consumers in the form of awareness about the issues associated with use of disposable paper cups. Another study conducted by Gagnon et al. (2013) explains that different cafes maintain different styles, culture and ambience that directly influence the way people function in the space. This remains a key insight that helps in focusing on policies and initiatives of cafes as associated with influencing customers to prefer reusable cups and reduce the usage of disposable paper cups.

Chapter 5: Analysis and Discussion of Results

5.1.1 Analysis of Case Studies Discussion on Starbucks initiatives

It is evident from the case study of Starbucks that the company is engaged in several CSR initiatives in an active manner and the initiatives range from commitment to local communities, supporting farmers of coffee beans and concerns for the environment and impact of Starbucks’ operations on it along with committing to several official standards of CSR and embracing diversity. It is the company’s culture and business strategy of Starbucks that considers these initiatives as a critical element of success and sustainability. Such an integrated approach is quiet visible in the efforts and initiatives from Starbucks directed at reducing the usage of disposable coffee cups and providing options of recycling the waste materials for reducing the impact on environment.

The analysis of the initiatives from Starbucks explains that the company is well aware of the different needs and expectations of its stakeholders and considers these differences while defining the CSR communication and initiatives directed to various stakeholders. It is clear from the company’s website where different initiatives are divided into categories like, Community, Diversity and Wellness, Ethical sourcing, and Environment.

It is the community section that targets the customers of the company along with its employees and local communities with the aim of promoting relationship and support through engagement with the communities. Further the sections of Ethical sourcing and diversity focus on suppliers of raw material while environment sector is targeted at NGOs and activists. The company is not only targeting various stakeholders but sends a clear message in relation to its commitment and concern to take practical steps and actions to resolve the associated issues. This is evident in the regular initiatives taken by the company to provide options of recycling within the stores and promoting use of reusable cups by providing discounts to bring in a change in behaviour as well as continuously reducing the landfills by redirecting disposable waste to recycling facilities.

Applying the ‘Three Domain Approach’ to CSR motives (Schwartz and Carroll, 2003), it is clear that Starbucks focus on a collaborative approach towards existing motives of sustainability. It include economic as well as ethical motive that are highly salient in connection with all initiatives. The legal motives are emphasized through collaborative associations with sustainability partners like ‘Simply Cups’ and other corporate relationships with several NGOs and ethical organizations.

An association with these organizations make Starbucks to focus its sustainability initiatives to meet the specific standards across its value chain. He economic motives of the company are represented in an indirect manner through its integrated and holistic approach where it works in collaboration with its suppliers and emphasize on their success as well as sustainable business practices focused on finding new ways of reducing the environmental impact of using disposable coffee cups through continuous research and development.

The analysis shows that Starbucks emphasize on a long-term commitment to various projects associated with sustainability and specifically with reducing the usage of disposable cups while offering recycling options. Therefore, the company seems to follow the sustainability initiatives as an integrated approach acting as a major part of the overall business strategy of Starbucks. Discussion on Costa Coffee’s initiatives

The management of waste within Costa is considered difficult and complex because of the variety of store ownership models operating across regions. With the introduction of two-stream waste solutions the company has is making its contribution to ensure processing of organic waste into biomass fuel and that collection of non-organic waste into mixed recyclate. The recent opportunity offered to franchise partners to take up the waste management services has helped the company to achieve the zero waste to landfill target by 2017.

Considering the strategic decisions and mission of Costa Coffee, is evident that the mission of this company is “to save the world from mediocre coffee”. Applying the Three Domain model of CSR activities, the company does not provide any relevant information about the business principles or any particular code of conduct created by Costa in relation to its legal responsibilities. Further, in terms of ethical responsibilities, the company has taken several initiatives to reduce the environmental impact of its operations, reducing the usage of disposable cups, introducing recycling in every store, looking for innovative solutions to curb the usage of disposable cups and promoting more use of reusable cups. However, the company says, “we do everything we possibly can” and this is a very vague sentence that is open for interpretation. It is better to define the goals and objectives related to sustainability in specific terms and make these measurable along with the targets to really explain the steps taken to save the environment.

Further, the company makes certain efforts to be a good corporate citizen by getting more involved and engaged with the society through publication of novels, biographies, poetry and children’s books. The efforts made by Costa Coffee makes it a very responsible corporate at various levels. However, apart from its partnership with some of the sustainability organizations, it is not very clear what else the company is doing to improve the situation of excessive usage of disposable cups and met its commitment towards sustainability. Costa is committed and prepared to develop a next generation cup that use minimum amount of resources and completely recyclable ensuring maintenance of zero landfill promise. Despite of being left behind in terms of sustainability in comparison to competitors, Costa has refined its focus on improving the activities related to CSR and achieve the leading position in reducing the impact of its operations on the environment. A continuous research and development conducted in collaboration with the manufacturers as well as sustainability partners is the key to Costa’s success in identifying innovative solutions and new packaging products for achieving and maintaining its commitment to zero landfill.

Costa Coffee provides information about the company’s CSR initiatives (specifically those related to usage of disposable cups) and commitments through the website but there is a lack of evidence suggesting that the CSR commitment and its strategic intent is integrated with the business strategies. There is a lack of detailed information about the strategy formulation and integration of various business operations to meet the goals of sustainability. Comparison between Starbucks and Costa Coffee initiatives (SWOT Analysis)

The case studies discussed in previous chapter of the research explains the key initiatives and approach followed by Starbucks and Costa Coffee in relation to reducing the usage of paper coffee cups. There are some strengths and weaknesses of each of the coffee chain and these can be analysed using SWOT Analysis:

Strengths Collaboration with sustainability partners   Engaging with stakeholders to meet sustainability goals   Focus on innovative solutions to recycling   Focus on continuous improvements to sustainability initiatives Weaknesses Limited focus to curb usage of disposable cups   Limiting sustainability initiatives to recycling opportunities   Limited focus on exploring new material to design environment friendly cups
Opportunities Work with manufacturers to look for sustainable material for designing cups   Sustainability partners can help in identifying solutions for creating awareness about sustainability issues   Threats Lack of awareness among consumers about sustainability issues   Lack of awareness among consumers about health hazards   Better initiatives and continuous research and development by competitors to find alternative cups

SWOT analysis for Starbucks initiatives associated with usage of disposable coffee cups

Strengths Collaboration with sustainability partnersCollaborating with manufacturers to look for new material to deign paper cup that use least resources and completely disposableOpportunities to franchisee partners to get waste management servicesFocus on continuous research and development to resolve the complexities of using disposable coffee cupsAchieving the goal of zero landfills in 2017 Weaknesses Lack of proper engagement with stakeholders in relation to sustainability   Limited commitment to legal standards of sustainability   Limited focus on creating awareness about sustainability   Lack of integration of CSR in business strategy
Opportunities Possibilities to educate customers to bring a change in behaviour and preference for disposable cups   Collaborating with NGOs and governments to meet the standards of sustainability     Threats Lack of awareness among consumers about sustainability issues   Lack of awareness among consumers about health hazards   Competitors focused on finding solutions through stakeholder engagement in CSR initiatives

SWOT analysis for Costa Coffee’s initiatives associated with usage of disposable coffee cups

The above-presented SWOT analysis can be used to compare and contrast the initiatives of Starbucks and Costa Coffee associated with reducing usage of disposable coffee cups. The comparison between the approaches of these two coffee cafes it is quiet clear that both the organizations are committed towards sustainability and continuously makes an attempt to reduce the use of disposable cups by offering different incentives to customers for using reusable cups and charging extra for preferring disposable cups. Starbucks have seen to be focused on the issue since long and took an initiative to reward people who bring their reusable cup. Costa Coffee is also committed to reducing the environmental impact of its operations and creates awareness among consumers to increase the use of reusable cups.

However, there are some contrasting features between the commitment and initiatives taken by Starbucks and Costa Coffee. Starbucks is seen focusing on giving incentive for reusable cups and providing every possibility of cup disposal and recycling. This is done by providing space at back of the store for recycling and allowing disposal of cups without any specification of the brand to be disposed off. On the other hand, Costa Coffee along with providing option of recycling commits towards continuous research in the area to understand what are the challenges people face while reducing their usage of disposable cups.

Every problems is studied and solutions are given in the form of discounts, new cups made up of materials that do not require doubling, collaborating with sustainability partners to work in a collaborative manner for bringing in awareness and change in consumer behaviour to reduce the consumption of disposable cups. Costa Coffee is more inclined to curb the usage of paper cups along with making significant efforts to recycle the cups. The continuous research made by Costa in the direction of sustainability helps in getting latest information about issues and possibilities of bringing in a change and reduce the environmental impact of using disposable paper cups. Despite of some of the differences in approach to sustainability, the focus of recycling from Starbucks as well as Costa is on diverting huge number of disposable cups away from landfill.

5.1.2 Benchmarking the results with literature review

The results of the study goes in line with the studies presented in literature review where the emphasis is on explaining the role of disposable paper coffee cups in polluting the environment and threat to sustainability. The results clearly explain that there is a need to bring a change in behaviour of customers as well as café staff members. It is necessary that the change begin from creating an awareness that should be initiated by the cafes. This is so as the behavioural change model starts with the stimulus and stimulations and the first step that needs to come from the policies and initiatives of cafes where disposable cups should be discouraged.

The next step in behaviour change model talks about the sensory system and recorded memories that can be achieved only through awareness among consumers. People should be able to recall the messages associated with sustainability, decreasing use of disposable cups and the way their habit changes can save the environment. When such messages are repeatedly sent and communicated, the impact on memory and behaviour can be expected. A combination of stimuli, sensory system and recorded memories will take people towards decision making associated with use of reusable cups and reducing the usage of disposable paper cups. Therefore, the results of the study clearly indicate a need to bring a change in consumer behaviour through a well-defined procedure based on the behavioural change model.

5.1.3 Themes Generated from the Results

  1. Need of Continuous Research and Development to resolve challenges faced in reducing usage of disposable cups

The results of the study shows that no one method can be considered to be the best route to resolve the issues faced in reducing the usage of disposable cups. Every organization is making some effort in one form or another either to reduce the usage of disposable cups or improving the possibilities of recycling. However, there seems to be a need of continuous research and development activities undertaken in order to explore innovative solutions that are applicable to resolve the issues. The research and development can focus on the initiatives suitable for companies or cafes and those that can be undertaken to bring a change in behaviour of actual users of disposable cups. There can be initiatives that follow a collaborative approach between the cafes and consumers to bring an actual reduction in such usage. Therefore, a continuous research is necessary to be continued to understand whether the actions by businesses can prove to be beneficial, or those taken up in the form of local voluntary agreements for promoting the use of reusable cups.

The results of the study explains the need of collaborating with stakeholders like communities, employees and consumers to consider an integrate approach towards changing behaviour and perception of consumers in relation to use of disposable coffee cups. This is so as the process of learning go through a number of stimuli that may be internal or external and situations where each stimulus results in a sensory stimuli like visual, auditory, taste, and tactile. The engagement with stakeholders will act as a stimuli creating working pathway. The commands associated with usage of reusable cups will become familiar thereby making the execution of such commands quick and easy as it is based on the long-term memory of individuals. Such a stimuli is necessary fro the process of decision-making as based on these people decide whether to change the existing behaviour or not.

  • Increasing Awareness among consumers and Cafes

The results of the study explains that existing behaviours are habits that are often passive in nature and do not require the process of active cognition. In case any new behaviour is to be introduced, it is necessary that existing behaviours are interrupted and make the new behaviours easy to adopt. As the results indicate that it is important to consider the convenience associated with any habit or behaviour. Therefore if any behaviour required too much activation energy during adoption, these are most unlikely to be adopted. Additionally, it is difficult to overcome individual habits and holds more power in comparison to intentions. Therefor, it is important that support from institutions, organizations promoting the new behaviour and certain incentives are combined to encourage and reinforce a change in behaviour through altering the value and intention of the behaviour. Here, education or awareness is another key factor that helps in promoting new actions specifically related to sustainable behaviours, however, the results of the study shows that there is less awareness and education among consumers about the non-disposable nature of paper coffee cups.

Applying the social cognitive theory to the results of the study, it is quiet clear that the behaviours of disposable paper cup users is influenced by the interaction of several factors that are personal, behavioural and environmental in nature. Here, social cognition explains that people learn by observing others and that individuals and their environments influence each other in a mutual manner. As evident from the study results, when people become aware of the concept of sustainability and the associated issues, there is high possibility of not making any compromise in achieving an ethical behaviour completely.

When consumers observe a positive model, they are more likely to imitate the positive behaviour leading to reduce the usage of disposable paper cups. For instance, if the initiatives to reduce the use of disposable cups come from the companies or organizations in the café business, there are chances of consumers taking up the behaviour forward leading to a resolution of the issue. This is so as such efforts help consumers realize that their behaviour will be evaluated as a group and not individually making their goals interdependent in nature. Such scenario is expected to act as a great tool for setting models of expected behaviour. This is so as consumers of coffee will be evaluated as a group and they will always wants to be recognized as being positively adhering to the expected behaviours in the group so that they will not be seen as someone who may hurt the group values. Therefore, the results explain the need of following a collaborative approach among cafes and coffee consumers that can bring in a positive change towards reducing the use of disposable coffee cups.

The theme of increasing awareness to bring in a change in behaviour can be associated to the theory of reasoned action as discussed in the literature review section. As per this theory, the behaviour of an individual is a positive function of his or her behavioural intention to perform the behaviour. When the attitude of individuals towards using disposable cups is considered, it helps in predicting their behaviour and perception about such usage. The study results confirm that people use these sups considering them as completely disposable and largely remain unaware of the sustainability issue and health hazards associated with such usage. Educating people about these issues will help in changing their behavioural intentions and bringing a positive shift in their attitudes and subjective norms leading to change in preference towards reusable cups.

  • Collaborative Effort of sustainability partners and cafes

Another theme generated from the results is the efficiency of a collaborative effort between sustainability partners and cafes to reduce the usage of disposable coffee cups. The sustainability partners are focused on providing the cost-efficient and recycling services to the organizations in the supply chain and the beverage outlets. These services help in reducing the operating cost of these organizations while improving their environmental credentials. One such collaborative effort comes from ‘Simply Cups’ that help the beverage companies to use the efficient logistics services of the company to help them segregate the materials and collecting, bulking and sending the recyclable material direct to the re-processors.

Therefore, the company is involved with the manufacturer, the supply chain members and the users to reduce the landfills and direct the waste material of disposable cups for re-processing. Similar collaborative efforts are required to encourage the innovative ways of tackling the issues of disposable coffee cups. When companies join some responsible programs focused on sustainability, it becomes easy as well as efficient to change the behaviours and influence people in considering sustainable behaviours. Organizations like Starbucks rely on working with local governments to find support to increase and improve the opportunities of commercial recycling across the region.

Here, the theory of planned behaviour can be applied as it helps in understanding and predicting behaviour of human beings. Here three kinds of beliefs namely behavioural beliefs, normative beliefs and control beliefs form the basis of the intention of performing a specific behaviour in certain situation. The collaborative efforts of sustainability partners and the business organization will help in meeting the perceived expectations and behaviours of these key groups resulting in positive motivation for consumers to comply with the referents using reusable cups.

Further, the engagement of company with communities, employees, consumers and other stakeholders will result in understanding the positive and negative results of using disposable cups and switching to reusable cups leading to a change in “behavioural beliefs” of individuals while understanding the subjective value of such consequences. These factors along with the control beliefs available in the form of initiatives from cafes to stop serving coffee in disposable cups will act as an influencing element promoting positive consumer behaviour in relation to use of reusable cups. Therefore, all the three elements can help in facilitation of behavioural performance while people developing intentions of switching to use of reusable cups.

Also, the theory of planned behaviour comprise of six constructs that represent the individual’s actual control over the behaviour. These constructs are attitudes, behavioural intention, subjective norms, social norms, perceived power and perceived behavioural control. When a change in behaviour of consumers is intended, there is a need to focus on finding ways to bring a change in all of these six constructs that will further result in a complete behavioural change while making adoption of new behaviour practically possible. However, there is need to collaborate theory of planned behaviour and that of reasoned action to explain the results of the current study. In the theory of reasoned action the focus is on behaviours and actually predicting behaviours.

  • Application of Behavioural Change Model

The results of the study show that there is a need to bring in the change in behaviour of consumers using the disposable coffee cups. It is not sufficient to provide options and facilities to recycle the disposable material but to bring in a behavioural change so as to reduce the usage and manufacturing of disposable cups. Such a goal can be achieved through application of some behavioural models like Trans Theoretical Model of Change (TTM) to develop effective interventions promoting a positive change in behaviour. The model can be applied to explain the way people will modify their behaviour of using disposable cups and adopting usage of reusable cups. Here the complete process of pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action and maintenance is to be followed ensure progress towards adopting reusable cups and avoid the chances of relapse.

Applying the model, presently the consumers of coffee seems to be in stage of pre-contemplation where they may or may not be considering the change. This makes it important for cafes to encourage self-exploration while explaining the risk associated with their present preference of disposable coffee cups. Further the initiatives to create awareness and educate people about sustainability and the issues associated with usage of disposable coffee cups will lead to the stage of contemplation. Here, consumers will be able to re-evaluate the perception about disposable cups. The cafes can identify and promote ne and positive expectations from the results of such awareness and education. This will be followed by the stage of ready to change where people will be encouraged to evaluate the merits and demerits of switching to reusable cups. Finally, the changes can be introduced by stopping the use of disposable cups to serve coffee to people enjoying their coffee at the café itself. The change in behaviour should be reinforced through regular programs dedicated at educating people, communicating the statistics of reduction in use of disposable cups and its impact on better sustainability of environment. Additionally, the system of rewards as followed by Starbucks and Costs should be continued to act as a reinforcing method helping people to avoid relapse.

5.1.4 Research Objectives and answers to research questions

The analysis of the results explains that the present day consumers prefer to use paper coffee cups because of these are easy to use, easy to carry, cost-effective and at times attractive providing a self-image to consumers. They are not well aware of the sustainability issues related to use of disposable coffee cups as these are considered to be completely recyclable in nature.

Moreover, people are not much aware of the health hazards associated with usage of paper coffee cups making it difficult for them to bring a change in their preference and behaviour towards coffee cups. This achieves the research objectives where the focus was on discussing consumer awareness of the non-recyclable nature of paper coffee cups and know their reasons of preferring these cups. Further, the results f the study have studied the impact of using coffee cups in sustainability and the significant efforts made by industry giants to reduce such an impact. This achieves the last objective of the research while providing detailed information about reasons to curb usage of disposable cups and the commitment of industry players like Starbucks and Costa Coffee to find alternate solutions as well as recycling options through continuous research and development.

Further, the answers to research questions are also found through the analysis of results of the information collected through different sources. The reasons of using paper coffee cups by consumers is well answered with explaining that it is not enough to make people aware of the non-recyclable nature of paper coffee cups to bring a change in consumer behaviour. Rather, there is a need for a collaborative approach where companies work with manufacturers as well as consumers and employees to understand the reasons of switching to reusable cups. The research results also explain the process of behaviour change among consumers that should be initiated in a systematic manner by targeting behavioural beliefs, normative beliefs and control beliefs in order to motivate people to adopt new positive behaviour towards usage of reusable cups and reducing the use of disposable paper cups. 

Chapter 6: Conclusion and Recommendations

6.1 Conclusion

The analysis of results provides some key insight into the issues related with consumer behaviour and perception in relation to usage of disposable coffee cups. The conclusions derived from the study are listed as follows:

  • There is a lack of awareness among consumers of coffee about the health hazards of using disposable coffee cups.
  • There is a lack of awareness among consumers of coffee about sustainability issues while considering their disposable cups to be completely recyclable in nature.
  • The need is to bring in a change in behaviour of consumers as well as initiate steps on the part of café to ensure a collaborative approach to curb usage of disposable coffee cups.
  • The need is to understand consumers’ perception and behaviour and initiate a positive change in behaviour using the ‘behavioural change model’ to motivate people for adopting usage of reusable cups.
  • The big players in the industry are focused on waste management and finding new sustainable materials to make disposable cups, but there is a lack of initiatives and collaborations focused on educating people to change their behaviour and perception towards such usage.
  • Big players in the coffee chain industry remain focus on ensuring sustainability of their operations and meeting their CSR goals
  • These players like Starbucks and Costa Coffee meet the goals of sustainability through collaboration with sustainability partners and manufacturers
  • Starbucks focus more on recycling opportunities but the efforts are limited on the level of curbing the use of disposable coffee cups
  • Costa Coffee follows a balanced approach to provide opportunities of recycling along with curbing the use of disposable coffee cups.
  • Costa Coffee collaborates with manufacturers to look for cups that use least amount of resources and are completely recyclable.

6.2 Recommendations

Considering the results of the study, certain key recommendations are given:

  • Creating Awareness

The first recommendation is to make certain efforts in educating people and creating awareness about the sustainability issues attached to usage of disposable coffee cups. Consumers should also be educated about the health hazards associated with usage of disposable coffee cups for hot beverages. Further, it is recommended that cafes should start with the initiative of education people as well as taking concrete steps to avoid disposable cups completely by serving in-house coffee in reusable cups.

  • Providing Alternatives

Coffee chains should actively pursue advertising the need of behavioural change and educating customers to increase awareness about using reusable cups. It is necessary that customers be provided with easy and competitively priced option to disposable cups. This can be achieved by providing reusable mugs at the café or requesting people to get their own cup for take-away.

  • Training Employees

It is also recommended that employees of cafes be provided opportunities of training to communicate the need of changing behaviour of people and initiate the change from within the café. Here the attitude of staff needs to be changed that can help in bringing a change in attitude of consumers.

  • Combination of Incentives

There should be a combination of several different incentives and not limiting it to economic benefit to produce better results. For instance, along with a discounted price, cafes can pursue people through social marketing techniques and themed events where consumers changing their preference to reusable cups can be felicitated.

  • Collaborative approach to sustainability

While focusing on options of recycling, companies should collaborative with manufacturers to find alternate material to make disposable cups. The alternate material should be such that use least possible resources and completely recyclable in nature. Additionally, coffee chains should follow a policy of engaging with stakeholders to promote a change in behaviour while making stakeholders the role model for adopting positive behaviour in the form of using reusable cups.

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