People Make Glasgow Greener

By Georgina Massouraki, Campaigns Officer, Keep Scotland Beautiful

As Glasgow prepares to host the 26th annual UN Conference on Climate Change (COP26), environmental charity Keep Scotland Beautiful has re-activated an intervention to tackle single-use cup waste across the city.

Building on past work

From December 2018 up until the pandemic in March 2020, Keep Scotland Beautiful ran Cup Movement in Glasgow, an ambitious city-wide collaboration to transform Glasgow’s relationship with single-use cups. By working across sectors with those who buy, sell and use cups, the initiative aimed to find solutions around reuse, recycling and litter in order to address single-use cup waste.

One of the first steps in doing this was to identify existing initiatives and opportunities to build on.

Closing the gap

Cup Movement polling carried out in 2019 showed that only around 20% of Glaswegians used a reusable cup and around 70% wanted to recycle single-use cups but didn’t know how. Many people were not aware of the cup reuse incentives available in many stores (e.g. discounts, membership points, cup charges etc). And many were confused about cup recycling and about whether it was even possible. Hardly any were aware that they could take back their cups to recycle in-store with many of the big coffee chains.

These findings highlight the opportunity to tackle the challenge of single-use cups by closing the awareness and behaviour gap around existing solutions. The #ChooseToReuse or #TakeItBack campaign was created to do just that.

Opportunities for reuse and recycling

In the lead-up to COP26, Keep Scotland Beautiful has once again joined forces with Glasgow City Council and some of the city’s biggest coffee retailers to reactivate the #ChooseToReuse or #TakeItBack campaign. This will raise awareness of the existing opportunities to reuse and recycle cups in a total of 106 store locations across the city, with participating retailers Costa Coffee, McDonald’s, Pret A Manger, Caffè Nero and Starbucks.

Through a combination of communications, including social media, messaging on the city’s blue on-the-go recycling bins and campaign collateral in participating stores, people will be directed to an online map that shows all 106 locations where they can reuse or recycle their cup, as well as further information about the facilities available. In-store cup reuse and recycling rates are expected to increase as a result of this and the charity is working with retailer partners to track this.

The campaign is also putting the issue of single-use cup waste into the context of the climate emergency, engaging people to reconsider their consumption habits and play their part in addressing these challenges.

#ChooseToReuse or #TakeItBack will run through October and November 2021, either side of the COP26 event. 

To find out how you can get involved with the National Cup Recycling Scheme, please email