Train passenger Peter Kohler was told he could not use his own mug to buy coffee
Environmentalist Peter Kohler has carried his personal plastic mug for two years as his way of cutting back on waste from disposable mugs.
But when he went to buy an coffee on Virgin’s Edinburgh – London train a steward refused to fill his mug because it had not been approved by the company.
Virgin Trains has since claimed it is trying to stop customers suffering burns.
Mr Kohler, 33, who runs a project called The Plastic Tide which carries out beach cleans around Britain, cancelled his order and went without the £1.95 drink.
He said: “The one control I have in environmental issues is my voice. It’s my choice to use the coffee cup and it was taken from me.
“This small change in using a reusable cup can make a significant impact.
The environmentalist has carried his own personal plastic mug for two years
“It was disempowering having my choice to reduce, reuse and recycle taken away.
It was disempowering having my choice to reduce, reuse and recycle taken away
“I was being forced to create more waste.”
Mr Kohler, a council worker who lives in London, said he had never had an issue before with his mug before and said it was more than big enough to fit the drink compared to Virgin’s own.
He added that he would have even agreed to a smaller amount of coffee to reduce the risk of it spilling.
A steward on Virgin’s Edinburgh-London train refused to fill his mug as it was not ‘risk assessed’
Over 2.5 billion coffee cups are thrown away each year in Britain, many of which find their way into waters off the coast.
Virgin Trains said they only sold hot drinks in their own approved containers for safety reasons.
The cups they use are non-recyclable due to their plastic interior although they are reviewing them.
A spokesman said: “Safety is our paramount concern and the rules we have in place at the moment on the East Coast route are there to avoid our people and customers being burnt by hot liquids.
“We’re currently reviewing these to ensure that people can use their own cups in a safe manner.”
Virgin Trains has since claimed it is trying to stop customers suffering burns
Earlier this month a fully compostable and recyclable coffee cup and lid made from plant starches and cellulose was tested by several major high street coffee chains.
They can degrade in water within three months.
The Plastic Tide project was set up by Mr Kohler in his spare time. It sends drones over the UK to gather images which allows environmentalists to find plastic which has washed up on shore.
They then conduct beach cleans and use the data collected by cameras to create a database which will remotely detect plastic build-up.
The charity also assesses the relationship and impacts of plastics on communities and individuals.