Two Starbucks branches in the City of Westminster local authority area have been fined £160,000 after “deliberately” leaving rubbish bags on the street outside of designated collection times.
Since April 2015 both coffee shops on Berkeley Street, as well as the Starbucks head office, had shown a “complete disregard” for regular warnings from Westminster city council to stop putting rubbish bags on the busy central London pavement, according to the authority.
Starbucks also paid seven out of eleven £80 fixed penalty notices, with the first having been issued in 2011.
However, bags continue to be left on the street for hours, cluttering the pavement and resulting in rubbish spilling out onto the pavement, the council has said.
On Wednesday (10 August), Starbucks pleaded guilty at Westminster Magistrates Court to four waste offences under the Environmental Protection Act and was fined £40,000 for each, plus £3,501 in costs and a £120 victim surcharge.
Cllr Nickie Aiken, Westminster city council cabinet member for licensing and public protection, said: “Starbucks have shown a complete disregard for local residents and visitors to this historic part of Westminster.
“On a regular basis Starbucks dumped their rubbish straight onto the pavement rather than following very simple collection schedules.
“This sentence proves that every business has a responsibility to keep our streets clean and tidy, regardless of the size of the company.”
Speaking at Westminster Magistrates court, District Judge Coleman said that Starbucks had acted in a “deliberate” manner, ignoring complaints from resident’s associations and numerous warnings from Westminster city council.
She did not accept the mitigation submitted by Starbucks that head office hadn’t been aware at the appropriate times due to internal procedures. Westminster city council had written to Starbucks head office on a number of occasions to raise the issue.
Coleman added that there was a “history of non-compliance” from Starbucks and noted the “prestigious” location and impact on the “local amenity.”
The fine was reduced by a third on the basis of the guilty plea, down from £60,000 per offence. The company is to pay the amount in full within 28 days.
There are two regular collections in Berkeley Street, at 7am and 6pm, Monday to Sunday. Businesses are expected to put rubbish out no more than 30 minutes prior to the collection time and waste should stay on the street for no more than two hours.
However, rubbish was seen dumped on the streets just after midday on a number of occasions and waste bags were observed spilling and leaking onto the public highway. Rubbish was also seen left out through the night in what is one of Westminster’s busiest night-time economy hotspots.
Cllr Melvyn Caplan, Westminster city council cabinet member for city management, said: “Keeping Westminster’s streets clean is a busy job which requires a huge amount of effort from council workers, residents and businesses.
“Hundreds of thousands of people from all around the world visit Westminster every day. A lot of them are likely to stop and enjoy a coffee, but not many of them want to pick their way through piles of rubbish.”