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Staff serving in Pret a Manger
Staff serving in Pret a Manger

Last week, we reported on the Virgin Trains passenger who was banned from using his own mug when he ordered a coffee.

A steward told Peter Kohler that using his own reusable cup was a health and safety issue. As a keen environmentalist, Mr Kohler decided not to have a coffee at all.

Train passenger banned from using his own mug

Only one in every 400 disposable cups is recycled in the UK, meaning that two and a half million are sent to landfill every year. Many simply aren't recyclable, thanks to the way they're made.

But if you want to do your bit to stop the rising tide of rubbish, it's worth knowing that several coffee chains allow you to use your own cup - and will even give you a discount if you do.

At Pret a Manger, you'll have to move fast, as it's only trialling a scheme until the end of the month - it says it'll review the policy after that. Until then, though, you can get 25p off if you take in your own cup.

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Meanwhile, French bakery chain Pauls is offering 10p off for customers with their own cups, and says the discount will be permanent. It even sells reusable cups itself.

Starbucks has given a discount to customers using their own cups for quite some time. But it got into hot water late last year when it cut that discount from 50p to just 25p.

Costa gives a 25p discount too, and Caffe Nero gives customers double reward card stamps.

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Earlier this month, more than 100 retailers and 30 organisations started offering recycling facilities in the City of London in an attempt to collect half a million coffee cups from the City of London in just one month - and it looks as if they'll achieve their aim. They're hoping for five million by the end of the year.

And it's not as straightforward as it sounds.

"The tricky issue is the mix of the plastic film on the inside of the cups which need special treatment to separate and recycle, plus the dregs of coffee which contaminate the recycling," the organisers say.

But it can be done - and if the scheme is successful, it could be rolled out across the UK.