Iconic worker bee to appear on new eco-friendly takeaway cups across Manchester

A portion of the sales from Stephensons' new plastic-free cups will be donated to one of Manchester's most life-changing charities.

Emily Sergeant Emily Sergeant - 9th March 2023

The iconic Manchester worker bee is to feature on a new eco-friendly takeaway cup that’ll soon be available throughout the city.

In a bid to celebrate and champion the city’s identity, all while helping the region cut back on the consumption of single-use plastics, family-run Stockport-based catering equipment business, Stephensons, has created a new environmentally friendly takeaway cup that you’ll soon be able to buy from a wide range of places across Manchester.

And around 5% of all the sales will be donated to the life-changing We Love MCR Charity too.

The certified plastic-free cup is fully compostable, and is designed to be recycled along with paper and card after use.

It will be available in 8oz and 12oz sizes, with 16oz soon to follow, and is to be sold to hospitality outlets, venues, and event organisers, alongside independent coffee shops, universities, museums, and everywhere in between.


The iconic Manchester worker bee – which is a symbol of the city’s resilience and work ethic, and the embodiment of the Mancunian spirit – takes centre stage on the cup, with the design originating from the striking mosaic in the Town Hall that can also be spotted throughout the city, on everything from lampposts and street art, to bins and beyond.  

The launch of the new cup comes after the success of Stephensons’ – which is one of the few companies to have the official rights from Manchester City Council to use the iconic bee symbol – now widely-recognised 100% recyclable bee straws.


The bee straws were notably introduced back in 2018 as part of the first step of a Greater Manchester initiative to eradicate avoidable single-use plastic, ahead of the government-imposed ban on plastic straws.

Just like the new bee cups, a percentage of the sales of the bee straws were donated to the We Love MCR Charity – with over £5,000 of vital funds raised to date.

“We came up with the idea of putting the bee mosaic on a disposable cup when we launched the straw back in 2018,” Stephensons’ Managing Director, Henry Stephenson, explained ahead of the cup’s official launch next week.


“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 new plastic-free cups will soon be available across the city / Credit: Supplied

Lord Mayor of Manchester, Donna Ludford – who is also Chair of the We Love MCR Charity – says she “can’t wait to see the beautiful cups in cafes, bars, and venues throughout Manchester”, and added that they’ll make “a great impact in helping reduce waste”, while the donations made to We Love MCR Charity will help “improve more lives across Manchester.”

Bev Craig, leader of Manchester City Council, also says she welcomes the bee cup initiative.


“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,” she added.

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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.  

Featured Image – Supplied