UK Lawmakers Propose 'Latte Levy' To Cut Coffee Cup Waste

05 January, 2018, 13:41 | Author: Chad Mckenzie
  • A Veolia paper cup recycling point

In Gosport, coffee cup firm Huhtamaki - which manufactures coffee cups for Starbucks - is aiming to introduce disposal points for coffee cups in the town, working alongside Gosport Borough Council.

The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) has urged the Government to launch a 25p "latte levy" on disposable coffee cups and for all the cups to be recycled by 2023.

To coincide with the launch of the report, Committee chair Mary Creagh MP said a revolution in recycling is needed given the United Kingdom coffee shop market's continued expansion and the current inadequate action on coffee cup waste.

Last night chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall - whose BBC show Hugh's War on Waste first drew attention to the paper cup problem - said the report showed "the United Kingdom has finally woken up and smelled the coffee cup nightmare".

PCCRG is a voluntary body focused on increasing the recovery and recycling of paper cups.

Mr Palmer-Jones said: "For any so-called latte tax to be more than just a light and frothy foam nod to reform, we need to wake up and smell the real coffee needed for a lasting brew".

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Committee member Anna McMorrin, Labour MP for Cardiff North, said: "We all use them, but as the committee discovered hardly any are recycled and most are littered, resulting in 2.5bn a year being thrown away".

It follows research which shows the United Kingdom throws away 2.5 billion paper cups every year, with many consumers believing they are being recycled when less than 1 per cent actually are.

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

The MPs say that all of these cups should be recycled by 2023 - or the Government should step in and ban them. The trial will begin next month and initially last for three months.

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 consultancy, which is a charity, will use the funds to run a behaviour change study, helping Starbucks to understand how the public can be encouraged to choose reusable drink containers. It was the EAC's recommendations of banning microbeads that bolstered government into doing so (the full ban comes into effect this coming July).

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The promotion of a charge for disposable cups, rather than a discount for customers bringing reusable cups, comes down to a question of effectiveness, according to the Committee. Pret A Manger's customers have benefitted from a 50 pence discount from this week. "Equally, the levy should be discounted when coffee shops do actually recycle - otherwise it presents no incentive and instead amounts to a general taxation".

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said the 5p plastic bag charge is proof that "these levies work".

Calls to make people pay more to use disposable coffee cups - a plan already being considered in Wales - have been taken up by a committee of MPs.

The government agrees plastic waste is a problem and will seek evidence on a tax on single-use plastics.

Ms McMorrin said the Welsh Government had "led the way in the UK" by introducing a charge for carrier bags and "we've seen single-use carrier bag usage drop by 71%".

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