Law firm’s war on waste


As MPs are told that coffee shops are not doing enough to deal with the billions of disposable cups that are thrown away in the UK each year, one of Cornwall’s leading law firms is playing its part by giving reuseable coffee cups to staff.

The influential environment audit committee heard yesterday (October 11) that the growth of coffee on-the-go has meant that 2.5 billion disposable cups are thrown away each year in the UK. That number is expected to rise to around 3 billion by 2025 and currently only 1% is being recycled.

Initially inspired by Hugh Fearnley-Wittingstall’s ‘War on Waste’, Chris Morse, a legal executive at Stephens Scown LLP, persuaded his bosses to introduce reusable coffee cups.

He said: “The numbers of these disposable coffee cups being thrown away is staggering – it is almost 5,000 a minute, or seven million per day. The plastic lining in cups means they cannot be recycled in normal depots and there are only three dedicated recycling mills for them at the moment. It makes sense that reuseable cups are the answer. That is why I suggested to our managing partner that Stephens Scown could play its part.”

Based on Morse’s suggestion the firm has introduced reusable thermal coffee cups for staff. The cost is covered by the firm, and each staff member made a donation of £2.50 for each cup to the firm’s former charity of the year, Children’s Hospice South West.

Stephens Scown’s managing partner Robert Camp said: “We were really supportive of Chris’s suggestion. One of our big campaigns is called Love Where You Live and it is all about celebrating the great businesses and things to do in Devon and Cornwall.

“Part of our responsibility as a big local employer is to play our part in keeping this area beautiful and reducing our impact on it. This is such a simple idea, but over time it will mean thousands fewer disposable cups being used and thrown away by our staff.”

Stephens Scown has over 290 staff, including more than 50 partners, across its offices in Exeter, Truro and St Austell.


  1. It is very commendable to eliminate waste, but careful consideration has to be given to reuse, the mugs need to be personalised to avoid cross contamination, washing up mugs can be ineffective, with a recent report saying that a atudy of ceramic mugs in the work place found fecal matter on them. I have seen ceramic mugs with lipstick still on them after going through a dish washer.
    Although we use paper cups, we put our name on them, and use same cup all day, thereby reducing a waste by 80%.

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