Manchester Bee Cup Creates a Buzz for the City’s Sustainability

Mar 20, 2023 | Sustainable Living

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The iconic Manchester bee is to be emblazoned on certified plastic-free takeaway cups throughout the city, which can be effortlessly recycled with paper and card after use. Launched by the family-run catering equipment business, Stephensons, circa 5% will be donated to the life-changing We Love MCR charity.

Celebrating the city’s identity and helping the region cut single-use plastics, the cup builds on the momentum created by its widely recognised bee straws, which launched in 2018. Granted the rights by Manchester City Council, Stephensons are one of the few companies to have the official rights to use the iconic bee symbol.

The certified plastic-free, the environmentally friendly cup is adorned with the Manchester worker bee, a symbol of the city’s resilience and work ethic and the embodiment of the Mancunian spirit. The cup’s design originates from the striking Manchester bee mosaic in the city’s town hall, with the symbol visible throughout the city, from lamp posts to street art, bins and beyond.

Lord Mayor of Manchester Donna Ludford, who is Chair of We Love MCR, said: “I’m passionate about improving the city for all our communities, so it’s fantastic to partner with Stephensons which shares that ambition. After the success of the bee straws, which I love to see across our city, I can’t wait to see their beautiful coffee cups in cafes, bars, and venues throughout Manchester. They’ll make a great impact in helping reduce waste, and the donations made to We Love MCR will help us to improve more lives across Manchester.”

Leader of Manchester City Council Bev Craig, added: “I welcome this innovative initiative, which reduces environmental impact and invests in our community. The Manchester worker bee positively represents Manchester, so to see it on biodegradable coffee cups across the city will be a great way to celebrate our heritage whilst making a positive difference to our communities and our environment.

As supporters of the Plastic Free GM Pledge, the cup sees Stephensons fulfil its longstanding ambition to launch a cup in a certified plastic-free material that is fully compostable and recyclable with paper and card. The newly released cup is available in 8oz and 12oz sizes, with 16oz soon to follow. It is to be sold into hospitality outlets, venues and event organisers, alongside independent coffee shops, universities, museums and beyond.

Stephensons managing director, Henry Stephenson said: “We came up with the idea of putting the bee mosaic on a disposable cup when we launched the straw back in 2018, but it was only until recently that the technology finally arrived, allowing us to put the bee on a truly sustainable, certified plastic-free cup. We’re proud to see both the cup and the straw as a simple but powerful statement from the city’s hospitality industry, reflecting its collective commitment to sustainability. As a Manchester-based business since 1868, we understand the pride and identity people associate with the Manchester bee, so to have the bee as a continued symbol of the city’s desire to limit single-use plastics is fantastic.”

The official launch of the cup will take place at the Northern Restaurant and Bar show at Manchester Central on Tuesday 14 March before being distributed across the city.

In 2018, Stephensons gained a licence to sell paper straws featuring the Manchester bee icon which, like the cups, donated a percentage of sales to We Love MCR, with over £5,000 raised to date. The 100% recyclable straws were initially founded as the first step of a Greater Manchester initiative to eradicate avoidable single-use plastic; a move made prior to the government-imposed ban on plastic straws. The bee cup continues this heritage as another step towards cutting single-use plastics across the region whilst raising funds for the life-changing We Love MCR charity.

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