Reducing waste

Here at Costa Coffee, we understand the importance of the responsibility we have as a global coffee business to make better choices when it comes to reducing waste.

We’re constantly looking out for new ways to help us minimise our impact on the environment. Whether it’s encouraging the reuse of products in our stores or recycling the materials we do use into new resources for the future, we want to continually make positive changes to our business and for the planet. Below are a few of the initiatives we are involved in to help us achieve just that.

Our plastic iced drink cups are made from 70% recycled materials and can be disposed of in any public mixed recycling bin!

In 2018, as part of our commitment to reducing waste, Costa Coffee became the first business to sign up to Refill, a nationwide campaign designed to reduce plastic waste by encouraging people to use reusable water bottles. 

It’s estimated that the average UK adult purchases 3 plastic water bottles every week, so we’ve pledged to provide free drinking water on request from all of our stores across the country, creating over 2,000 Refill stations and giving everyone the opportunity to make more sustainable choices.

Look out for the Refill logo in our store windows as a reminder that they offer free drinking water!


700,000 plastic bottles are littered every day making up a third of all plastic pollution in our oceans

In summer 2018, we introduced brand new glassware for our iced drinks as part of our commitment to reducing our consumption of single-use plastics.

We are the first and only UK coffee brand to offer our customers a sustainable alternative to plastic cups for iced drinks, and we are already starting to see the difference this change has made.

Just 6 months after introducing our new in-store glassware we were able to save around 8 million plastic cups from being used!

  • Straws

    In 2018, we ditched single-use plastic straws from our stores and switched to paper alternatives

  • Napkins

    By removing napkins from our condiment units, we helped reduce our paper waste by 43%

Since June 2016, we've been working with clean technology company bio-bean to recycle our used coffee grounds into biofuel. Through this partnership, bio-bean now recover over 3,500 tonnes of coffee grounds every year from around 900 Costa Coffee stores. 

In addition to our bio-bean partnership, Costa Coffee also runs an initiative called Grounds for Grounds, which gives our customers the opportunity to take our used coffee grounds home to use in their gardens. Coffee grounds make great fertiliser or can be used to create a naturally balanced compost pile! 

Just pop into your local store to request our grounds and watch your garden flourish!

Recycling our coffee grounds into biofuel reduces our CO2 emissions by 420 tonnes every year – that’s the equivalent of planting a forest the size of 110 football pitches!

At Costa Coffee, we are committed to reducing both food surplus and food waste wherever possible.

Food waste - Food that is past its expiry date and unfit for human consumption

Food surplus - Food that is still in date, but nearing its expiry date or can no longer be sold at store level

As part of our work, we follow the principles of the Food Waste Hierarchy. This means we look to reduce food surplus first and then, secondly, sell any leftover food at a discounted rate at the end of the day. When a food product can no longer be sold, we look to donate the food to charity. When donation cannot take place, we ensure that food waste is disposed of responsibly through anaerobic digestion.

Our priority is always to prevent waste in the first place, but where it does happen it is important to make sure it is managed correctly. To read more about our Food Surplus Store Donation Policy please click here.

We already work closely with FareShare, a charity aimed at relieving food poverty and reducing food waste in the UK. This means that food from our supply chain that might otherwise have gone to waste is sent to charity and community groups that support vulnerable people across the country.

If you are a charity and would like to know more about how your local Costa Coffee store might be able to donate food surplus, please contact the Store Manager directly.

What's next?

Interested in finding out about the steps we're taking to reduce our energy use? Click the link below to learn more.