CAMPAIGNERS want to make Oxfordshire the first county in Britain to go single-use coffee cup free.

A coalition of environmental groups is encouraging drinkers to plump for reusable cups, following the launch of the ‘Keep it Green for Oxfordshire’ campaign.

Every day, millions of disposable coffee cups are thrown in bins nationwide and the planet is ‘choking on plastic’.

This initiative, launched by local company Beanbags Coffee earlier this year, aims to tackle the problem.

Countless other independent stores and chains around Oxfordshire offer reusable cups, with sales from the Beanbags cups – currently totalling more than £600 – being donated to Wild Oxfordshire.

Roselle Chapman, from Wild Oxfordshire, said: “The takeaway coffee industry generates an unacceptable quantity of single-use, non-recyclable plastic.

“All coffee outlets will fill your own cup for you, instead of their disposable ones, and some will even knock a bit off the price of your drink if you bring your own cup.

“We hope that this campaign will be a catalyst for people to think more deeply about their lifestyle’s impact on Oxfordshire’s environment.”

An Oxford survey in April recognised two independent stores for going plastic-free, but nationwide some seven million coffee cups are thrown away each day.

Dom Stanway-Williams, a spokesman for Beanbags Coffee, said: “We live in a fantastically forward-thinking area and with the whole country now making moves to move away from a single-use lifestyle, why shouldn’t we be the first county to get rid of takeaway coffee cups completely?”

A complete ban on single use coffee cups would likely require national legislation, a city council spokesperson said.

Mr Stanway-Williams added that the scheme took inspiration from similar initiatives such as Recup in Germany.

A meeting is planned with Recup’s organisers to discuss the possibility of a cup ‘deposit’ scheme in Oxford.

“These schemes have proved that if the infrastructure is created and backed by the general public, huge numbers of single-use coffee cups can be eliminated for good,” Mr Stanay-Williams added.

Chris Church, from Oxford Friends of the Earth, which supports the campaign, said: “Britain is littered with plastic waste - it’s on our beaches, in our rivers, and on our streets. It’s something that everyone can help tackle, and getting a proper reusable coffee cup of your own is a simple first step for anyone.”

Oxfordshire County Council said it welcomes ‘any initiative’ to reduce single-use plastic use and that it would focus on plastic during National Recycle Week next month.

In a statement, it said: “National government has consulted on a deposit scheme, which may include coffee cups, and we will see the results of that later this year.

“We are working to reduce the council’s own single-use plastic where possible and have already removed plastic stirrers from the Common Hall Café and plastic cups from libraries.”

City councillor Tom Hayes, board member for Safer, Greener, Environment, added: “The planet’s choking on plastic, particularly single-use plastics which are in our ocean,s where they break down and enter our food chain. Action is urgently required, and the council fully supports initiatives aimed at cutting down on single-use plastic.

“We are looking at options to bring to an end the use of unnecessary single-use plastics in council buildings, through our supply chains and at events on council land. We encourage Oxford’s businesses, organisations and residents to go single-use plastic free, and we are looking at how we could provide support to local businesses to find sustainable alternatives.”

Meanwhile, the Westgate centre has come under fire after removing an anti-plastic campaigner from its premises and ignoring her emails.

Hazel Dawe was asked to leave by security because she did not have permission for completing a survey on plastic use.

The Oxfordshire APP activist left but later emailed questions about reducing plastic waste. She says she only received a reply five weeks later, following media interest.

A spokesperson at Westgate Oxford said: “Westgate is committed to working with brand partners wherever possible to reduce single-use plastic waste, as highlighted by our ‘Refill Me’ initiative.

“We will be reaching out to Oxfordshire Action on Plastic Pollution to discuss future campaigns and sustainability initiatives.”

Dr Dawe welcomed the campaign to reduce single use coffee cups, but believes more needs to be done on plastic use generally.

She said: “It is a good start but there is more to it.

“We would like all single use plastics to be replaced by alternatives – that’s straws, cutlery, food containers, etc.

“Short term we would like to make Westgate - and then Oxford - single use plastic free.”