British parliamentary committee recommends levy on take-away coffee cups

'Latte levy' could be imposed on UK coffee drinkers to reduce disposable cup waste
British parliamentary committee recommends levy on take-away coffee cups
Author

05 January, 2018

Starbucks has also today announced a trial in London to introduce a 5p charge on disposable coffee cups.

A 25p "latte levy" should be placed on disposable coffee cups and all must be recycled by 2023 or face being banned altogether, say MPs.

Over the course of the inquiry, the committee heard that the UK's total annual coffee cup waste (30,000 tonnes) is enough to fill the Royal Albert Hall and estimates suggest that by 2025 more than 3.75 billion disposable cups could be used per year, yet just 0.25 per cent of those now used are recycled. MCS's Beachwatch litter-surveying campaign has seen a reported 93 per cent increase in coffee cups found on United Kingdom beaches over the past five years.

The last decade has brought about an explosion in the United Kingdom café culture, as the traditional English cup of tea has succumbed to its roasted rival, with the milky latte taking top spot as the nation's most popular takeaway hot drink, served in paper cups laminated with a plastic sheeting, which waterproof the containers and stop hot drinks leaking onto customer's hands.

"The UK's coffee shop market is expanding rapidly, so we need to kick start a revolution in recycling".

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.

The MPs say the charge would lead to 750 million fewer disposable cups being discarded as litter, incinerated or sent to landfill, and would generate £438m.

Chains Pret A Manger, Costa Coffee, Caffe Nero and Greggs alongside USA firm Starbucks are among the biggest coffee-sellers in Britain and have rapidly expanded in the last 10 years to meet increasing demand.

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EAC chair Mary Creagh MP said: "Coffee cup producers and distributors have not taken action to rectify this and Government has sat on its hands".

And, the committee also stated that the tax should go towards improving recycling and reprocessing facilities. Cafes with in-store recycling systems should print their cups with "recyclable in store only", the MPs add. The trial will begin next month and initially last for three months.

Time to crack out your reusable cups?

Britain produces 30,000 tonnes of coffee cup waste each year.

"The evidence is clear that these levies work - the 5p charge on plastic bags has massively reduced usage and helped protect our environment".

Mr Stemman said the industry should continue to focus on other environmental issues such as cutting water use, carbon reduction, and turning waste coffee grounds into biofuel.

Foodservice Packaging Association executive director Martin Kersh fears a ban on disposable cups would cause some coffee shops to close. "No packaging type is totally recycled and a ban on paper cups would hit manufacturing jobs and damage a growing service industry which makes a major contribution to UK Plc", said Mike Turner, Speaking on behalf of the Alliance.

The Environmental Audit Committee is calling on the Government to introduce a minimum 25p charge to cut waste in the same way the plastic bag levy has done in supermarkets.


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