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Winchester University saving disposable cups

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The University of Winchester campus has introduced a scheme that has seen a dramatic fall in the number of non recyclable plastic cups used across its site using psychology they have also managed to make it cost the same as before.

How did they do this?

In previous years the campus used to use 191,000 disposable cups annually and nearly all of these cups eventually found their way into landfill sites where they will take decades to break down. Faced with the need to improve their environmental record the campus decided to make a subtle change to its pricing structure for hot drinks.

The campus already offered a 25 pence discount for any student or staff that used a reusable cup. Liz Harris, Environment Office for the University explained: “We offered the discount for a number of years, which was great, but not enough people took it up.”

The change they introduced was to remove the 25 pence discount and lower the prices of the hot drinks accordingly. Instead they introduced a 25 pence penalty for anyone needing to use a new fresh disposable cup. Crucially the prices have not really changed at all but the expectation that you’d need to bring along a reusable cup has.

Liz Harris explains: “You need a penalty to make the behaviour change.”

Since introducing the new pricing structure the University has saved 34,000 disposable cups. To make it even easier for students to take part the University has also given all first year students a free reusable cup to use.

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