KPMG bans (3 million) plastic cups from UK offices

KPMG UK has banned the use of plastic cups in its offices, after a successful pilot in Manchester.  The firm said the move to stop using plastic water cups across its 22 offices followed pressure from staff who asked the firm to adopt a more environmentally-friendly approach.

KPMG removed all plastic cups from its Manchester office as a trial initiative, where its 1,100 staff were provided with reusable water bottles. The firm said the switch will save more than 150,000 plastic cups each year in Manchester alone.

After the pilot, KPMG announced its plans to extend the initiative across all its UK offices by September 2018.

The firm said the BBC documentary series Blue Planet II prompted employees to question the environmental approach of the business.

Sarah Lindsay, KPMG’s environment manager, said, “After giving our employees two weeks to collect a bottle, we removed the cups from all water points in our Manchester office. We made paper cups available so people would still have access to drinking water if they didn’t have their water bottle with them for any reason. We had less than 10 requests for a cup on our first cup free day, which just shows how committed our people are to this important agenda.

KPMG said it uses three million plastic cups for water, which costs GBP 60,000 a year.

The removal of plastic cups is part of the firm’s 'Waste in our Time' programme, aimed at reducing waste and increasing recycling.

“As well as removal of plastic cups for water, saving 3 million cups across our UK offices, we will also phase out the use of plastic cups from our hot drink vending machines by August 2018, saving another 3 million cups per year. We are looking at two possible options to replace these, either a paper cup or a compostable cup, and these will be implemented on a site by site basis depending on the waste facilities available in the area,” Lindsay added.

“We have already removed the use of plastic straws from our offices and we have also saved over a quarter of a million items of plastic cutlery this year by removing them from some of our smaller offices. We will be doing the same across the entire firm by the end of the year.” 

Bringo's take: while many firms may have ditched plastic cups a long time ago, there are still hundreds of thousands who haven't, and the KMPG numbers show even a single firm may 'burn' through millions of them. So the potential (and quite easy!) gains are massive. Who's next?

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