United Kingdom lawmakers call for 'latte levy' on takeaway cups

05 January, 2018, 13:38 | Author: Malcolm Fuller
  • A latte levy is only the start when it comes to tackling coffee cup waste

A new report by the Environmental Audit Committee suggests a levy of 25p a cup, with the money being used to improve recycling and reprocessing facilities here in the UK.

'Coffee cup producers and distributors have not taken action to rectify this and the government has sat on its hands, ' said chair of the committee Mary Creagh.

"The paper cups we manufacture in the United Kingdom are sustainably sourced, responsibly produced, recyclable and, through a number of facilities, are being recycled". "Anything that would help facilitate the recycling of these cups is a good thing", he said.

The UK throws away 2.5bn coffee cups each year, the committee was told.

Ministers are already looking at the plans amid a shake-up of waste management in the United Kingdom after the Chancellor hinted at a review of non-recyclable packaging in his Budget past year.

Cropper takes cups collected by coffee retailers instore recycling bins, removes the plastic and turns them into luxury paper and packaging products.

While some coffee shops did offer discounts to customers who brought their own cups, the committee said that uptake of such offers was between just 1 and 2 percent of coffee purchases.

Disposable coffee cups can be tricky to recycle because most are made with a combination of paper and plastic.

MPs on the Environment Audit Committee say the charge would encourage consumers to bring their own reusable cups.

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Instead coffee chains perpetuated customer confusion that cups are widely recyclable when they are not.

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. The trial will begin next month and initially last for three months. Others include a target for all disposable coffee cups to be recycled by 2023, with a ban on all disposable coffee cups if the target is not met.

"At the same time, we will redouble our efforts to ensure that drink-in customers are always offered a ceramic cup, thus cutting paper use even further", added Starbucks. Pret A Manger's customers have benefitted from a 50 pence discount from this week.

Only one per cent of the cups sold by cafés "to-go" are recycled, most are sent for landfill or incineration.

The Daily Mail has led calls to "curb the cups" and crack down on plastic, campaigning to protect the environment with measures such as a deposit scheme for plastic bottles and the 5p levy on disposable plastic carrier bags.

David Palmer-Jones, the boss of French company Suez's recycling arm in Britain, said that, to really move the needle on the issue, proposals like the one unveiled by MPs on Friday need to form 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".

Foodservice Packaging Association executive director Martin Kersh fears a ban on disposable cups would cause some coffee shops to close. Potential revenue from a levy, according to the report, is estimated at £428 million, which the committee advises should be invested in the UK's recycling infrastructure.

"Whether or not the Government is willing to consider a levy, there is still a lot more work to be done by all the stakeholders involved to develop a sensible solution to this very modern waste problem".

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