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Behavioural insight to promote reusable cups – a field study on reducing the use of single-use cups in Sweden

  • Published on September 7, 2022

To improve the knowledge concerning the design and implementation of – and effects from – green nudges to reduce the usage of single cups, a study took place at a set of cafés in Gothenburg during the spring of 2022. The three nudges evaluated originated from two previous studies financed by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency. During the preparation phase, involving extensive dialogue with the cafés participating, it was agreed that only one of the suggested nudges was feasible to implement. Existing loyalty programs as well as limitations with respect to space and facilities for washing cups were among the reasons for limiting the number of nudges tested.

Globally, over 500 billion single-use cups are consumed annually of which between 250-300 billion are plastic-lined paper cups and this number is expected to grow as single-use cups are made more available in middle- and low-income countries. It is thus not strange that single-use cups are one of the top ten items found littered on beaches around the world. In Sweden alone, an estimated 500-100 million coffee cups containing plastic are used every year.

In 2021, a survey realized by Wrap showed that trying to make a dent in consumption around hot takeaway drinks is reasonable as 82 percent of Swedes make such purchase on a weekly basis. Up to 55 percent of consumers also say that they already own a reusable cup, although only 16 percent use them regularly. Forgetfulness is cited as the main reason for this.

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