Waitrose loyalty card holders will no longer be able to get free hot drinks in disposable cups, after the retailer pledged to remove them from all stores this Autumn.

The move, which is estimated to save more than 52 million cups a year, will be trialled in nine stores from 30 April, ahead of the national cup cull.

Members of the myWaitrose loyalty scheme will still be able to get a free tea or coffee from store self-serve machines, but will have to bring their own reusable cups with them, or purchase them in-store.

In addition, myWaitrose members will also no longer be able to claim their free hot drink in any of its 180 in-store cafés; to avoid customers without a reusable cup (and therefore unable to use the self- serve machines) putting increased pressure on its café staff.

Instead, myWaitrose members who purchase a tea or coffee in a café will be offered a choice of free food options such as bircher muesli, croissants or loaf cake.

Waitrose is also investing in training 800 of its staff members as baristas, to give better service in its cafés.

Tor Harris, head of sustainability and responsible sourcing at Waitrose, said: “We realise this is a major change, but we believe removing all takeaway disposable cups is the right thing to do for our business and are confident the majority of customers will support the environmental benefits.

“It underlines our commitment to plastic and packaging reduction and our aim is to deliver this as quickly as possible.”

Waitrose’s total sales, excluding fuel, in the week ending 7 April, were down 16.2% compared to the same week last year.

Comparisons were heavily distorted by the earlier fall of Easter this year, and most shops remaining closed on Easter Sunday, Waitrose said.

A cold, wet week compared to last year saw sales of soups increase by 17% and accompaniments to Easter roasts, including gravy and Yorkshire puddings, rise by 7%.