Single use coffee cups contribute around 52,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide to our atmosphere and some brands of tea-bags can be up to 25% plastic. Recently, the UK government announced it would not participate in the Single-use plastic (SUP) European directive, which has banned the use of plastic cups and lids.

THE KENT & SUSSEX TEA & COFFEE COMPANY evaluated the habits of over 100 UK cities using Google search volumes and survey data to find out. But which UK residents are the most clued up when it comes to the environmental impact of their favourite brews?

Here in South Wales it’s Newport residents who are the most sustainable tea and coffee drinkers, but are actually the second least likely to search for ‘coffee beans’ on Google, after Sale, Greater Manchester.

This is how the largest Welsh cities ranked:

  1. Newport (91st in the UK)
  2. Swansea (93rd in the UK)
  3. Cardiff (99th in the UK)

They also cross referenced this with how much Brits claimed to care about their caffeine carbon footprint according to a survey they conducted in February 2021. Here in Wales we ranked 7th out of the 12 UK regions when it came to considering ‘sustainability’ when shopping for coffee.

The Top 10

But what about the rest of the UK?

In third position — particularly thanks to a high volume of searches for ‘reusable coffee cups’ and ‘loose leaf tea’ is Bath.

In second place, searching most in the country for ‘reusable coffee cups’ and third most for ‘loose leaf tea’ and ‘coffee beans’, is neighbour Bristol.

The Bottom 10

But which towns and cities fared the worst in this index? The third least conscientious city is Stoke on Trent, which should come as no surprise to its residents, who were the least likely to rank ‘sustainability’ as important when buying their coffee in the UK in the company’s 2021 survey.

A stone’s-throw from Bedford, Luton is the second least caffeine conscious city in the UK. Particularly, Lutonians don’t spend much time searching for ‘reusable coffee cups’ or ‘loose leaf tea’ when it comes to their brews.

But one place ranked significantly below all others: Bradford. Particularly, Bradford had the lowest volume of searches least for ‘loose leaf tea’

Eco warriors, or eco fakers?

By comparing the search volume data to a study conducted in February 2021, there is also a big disparity between which Brits claim to shop sustainably for their tea and coffee, and those who actually do.

The Northern Irish were the most likely to claim they shopped for their tea and coffee sustainably, and yet overall, the top ranking Northern Irish town Derry landed in 21st position. The East Midlands and Scotland were the next likely regions to say they prioritised sustainability when shopping, and yet neither region managed to place any city in the top ten.

The most honest region was the West Midlands. According to our recent survey, people here were the least likely to claim they shop sustainably and this was corroborated by their search volumes. Stoke-on-Trent and Coventry, which are both in the region, ranked fourth and fifth least likely to be googling about these issues.

The place which downplayed their efforts the most was the North West of England. Although the region was the 4th least likely to rank sustainability as an important factor, the region scored two cities in the top ten, Chester and Stockport.

The Northern Irish were the most likely to claim they shopped for their tea and coffee sustainably

Which Brits take their teas and coffee most seriously?

Research has found that just one tea-bag can release up to 11.6 billion microplastics, and that around 56 billion coffee pods are dumped every year. Switching to refillable products, like coffee beans or loose leaf tea is one way to minimise unnecessary waste.

As mentioned previously, the people who are third most likely to google for ‘coffee beans’ or ‘loose leaf tea’ live in the same place: Bristol.

Cambridge residents were the second most likely to search for ‘loose leaf tea’. Those in Bedford were the second most likely to search for ‘coffee beans’, which makes sense when you consider that around 30% of the population have Italian heritage.

But the city searching for ‘loose leaf tea’ more than anyone else is Stockport, which ranked 8th overall for caffeine conscious consumption. Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire had the highest search volumes for coffee beans in the UK.

The towns where convenient caffeine reigns supreme are Sale, Newport and Raleigh (who search the least for ‘coffee beans’) and Bradford, Luton and Milton Keynes (who search the least for ‘loose leaf tea’).

Bradford, Luton and Milton Keynes search the least for ‘loose leaf tea’

You can find the results for each of the 7-factors HERE.

They also cross referenced this with how much Brits claimed to care about their caffeine carbon footprint according to a survey they conducted in February 2021. Here in Wales we ranked 7th out of the 12 UK regions when it came to considering ‘sustainability’ when shopping for coffee.

Richard Smith is Partner of the Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company, he told us….

“The news that the UK government has opted not to implement the SUP (Single-Use Plastic) directive requirements means that consumers and businesses will really need to educate themselves on the current crisis and learn how to make greener choices independently.

“In our company, we understand the importance of protecting the planet and have started our journey towards becoming carbon neutral. This includes planting a tree for every online order placed, and replacing the plastic in our tea bags with eco-friendly bioplastic equivalents. Although not perfect, we hope to set a good example to other businesses.”

We started our journey towards becoming carbon neutral. This includes planting a tree for every online order placed – Richard Smith

If you’d like to find out more about the study by The Kent & Sussex Tea & Coffee Company, just go HERE.

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