MPs propose 25p 'latte levy' on coffee cups

Coffee cup recycling

In a 37-page report on disposable coffee cups, the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee also proposed banning disposable paper cups entirely by 2023 if they are not all being recycled.

"The revenue should be used to invest in reprocessing facilities and 'binfrastructure" to ensure that the remaining disposable cups are recycled'.

Thanks to the UK's ever-growing coffee shop culture, and the general trend for using disposable cups given at the counter rather than reusable ones brought in from home, the country is throwing away a huge 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups each year, according to a study by Cardiff University.

David Palmer-Jones, Chief Executive Officer of SUEZ recycling and recovery United Kingdom said: "Taxes on takeaway coffee cups may provide a helpful nudge to consumers to abandon a throw-away culture, but for lasting change, proposals like these need to be part of wider, joined-up reform that shifts the burden of responsibility for all forms of packaging content, recyclability and ultimately their collection, back to the producer".

"We're calling for action to reduce the number of single use cups, promote reusable cups over disposable cups and to recycle all coffee cups by 2023".

"The cups we sell now are as environmentally friendly as they can be but whether they get recycled I couldn't tell you".

Starbucks says that it has already tried to change consumer behaviour by discounting reusable cups at the point of sale.

However, the EA committee said although some cup manufacturers and coffee shops had made voluntary commitments to recycle coffee cups, they are "inconsistent, and lack quantifiable targets and structure".

"If they were recycling it themselves, they'd bring reusable cups with them". Yet only 1-2% of customers take advantage of the offer.

Britain could be set to introduce a blanket charge for use of disposal paper cups in what has been labeled a "latte levy".

The US firm said it would trial a 5p charge on its cups at up to 25 of its London coffee shops in wake of the MPs' report.

"As we increase our understanding of pollution and non-recyclable plastics on our streets and in our seas, its impact on wildlife, then educating the public on how they can play their part is going to be critical".

The multi-layer material prevents the cup being recycled in exclusively paper or plastics recycling streams.

The lawmakers say a stick is more effective than a carrot in changing consumer behavior.

The committee also suggested the Government place some of the financial costs of recycling on the packaging producers. "The government must do the same and introduce the levy as soon as possible".

The Government has shown itself to be receptive to calls to tackle problem packaging, setting the tone with a charge for plastic bags, and promising further legislation to protect the environment and animal rights. Other efforts were "inconsistent and need targets" to be imposed by the government.

The Grocer has contacted Pret and Costa for comment.

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