Pixie Lott has traded performing on stage to become a member of the BBC Watchdog Live team as a guest reporter.
The singer-songwriter and The Voice Kids UK coach will front a report for the consumer programme in her debut one-off appearance, revealing the major high street coffee chains failing to recycle plastic used to serve takeaway iced beverages.
In the first episode of the new series, the 28-year-old visits coffee chains Starbucks, Costa and Caffe Nero, discovering that none of them have recycling bins for customers to use.
While some branches would recycle plastic if it was handed back over the counter, staff in a number of stores said they would not even do that if a customer gave it to them, and that cups would largely be thrown in the bin.
The programme found that Costa came out the worst in the undercover report, with seven out of 10 stores telling researchers they are unable to recycle plastic.
Two out of 10 Starbucks stores told the Watchdog team they could not recycle plastic, and that in just over half of its stores, plastic cups put into the paper cup recycling bin will be separated.
Four out of 10 Nero stores said they were unable to recycle plastic, although the company has told Watchdog that plastic cups put into the general waste bin will be separated for recycling, unless contamination from food waste makes this impossible.
Lott said: “When I’m at home, I do all I can to recycle, but when I’m out and about, and I buy an iced drink or I go to a coffee shop, what am I meant to do?
“It’s just a little bit frustrating that these plastic cups are kind of falling through the cracks.”
Starbucks told the programme that it is “committed to limiting waste and our plastic takeaway cups are fully recyclable”.
It added: “The majority of cold drinks served in plastic cups are taken away from stores and can be easily recycled in public recycling bins.”
The comapny said its employees are regularly trained on recycling policies to further reduce waste.
Costa said: “At Costa Coffee customers can opt to enjoy a hand-crafted cold drink in glassware or save 25p and use a reusable cup.
“Our cold takeaway cups, which are made from up to 70% recycled plastic, are widely recyclable and do not require single segregation.
“We are currently trialling plastic recycling in some stores, collecting plastic packaging, including cold cups, from customers and separating the material back of house. This allows us to ensure minimal contamination, a common problem in mixed recycling bins in stores.”
Caffe Nero said it collects, separates and recycles all the plastic cups used and left in its stores in recycling containers in back-of-house areas.
The chain told the programme: “We do not have collection points in the customer spaces of the coffee shop, partly due to available space and because those collection bins are often contaminated by food waste placed in the wrong bins by mistake; we therefore do it back of house, away from sight.
“Since we made the decision to change our drink-in ice drinks to glassware in April, we have removed 2.2 million plastic cups from our business, which is a reduction of 35%.
“In the last year, we have also removed over six million paper cups from our business.”
BBC Watchdog Live is on BBC One at 8pm on Thursday.