United Kingdom needs "latte levy" on disposable coffee cups to cut waste- lawmakers

Posted January 05, 2018

Some coffee shops give customers discounts for bringing their own refillable cups.

"Now there's no way this horrendous and avoidable problem can be put back to sleep". 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.

Numbers of the throwaway cups have hugely increased in recent years. "Legislation needs to set a date after which the continued production of unrecyclable coffee cups is banned by law".

U.S chain Starbucks will trial a 5 pence levy at up to 25 London branches in February for three months.

Naturally the proposal is being opposed by the people who make the paper cups.

This comes after the success of the plastic bag 5p tax which saw an 85% reduction in the amount of single-use plastic bags handed out, taking 6 billion plastic bags out of circulation in just the first year of the tax being in force.

"Its estimate of the funds created by a 25p charge are entirely disproportionate and it would seem the committee has failed to appreciate the point of an on-the-go waste management strategy is to achieve higher collection, less littering and more recycling for all on-the-go packaging from cans to cups, so simplifying waste disposal on the go".

"The government should set a target for all disposable coffee cups to be recycled by 2023".

"Once coffee cups are separately collected they have a value and can be made into new products".

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.

Costa Coffee said it offered a 25 pence discount to those using reusable cups but the government needed to focus on improving recycling infrastructure.

It also pointed out that now cup producers only contribute around 10 per cent of the cost of disposing of the coffee cups "leaving the taxpayer to foot the rest".

Welsh ministers are considering asking for powers to tax the cups and other plastics that are hard to recycle.

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

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.

In October, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) established the Voluntary and Economic Incentives working group to examine ways to reduce litter and improve packaging recycling. We will carefully consider the committee's recommendations and respond shortly'.

However, the difficulties surrounding the recycling of coffee cups are manifold: not only are recycling capabilities limited but the majority of cups go straight into the general waste.

The Irish parliament is considering banning single-use coffee cups whilst the German city Hamburg said in 2016 it will no longer use coffee-makers with aluminium capsules in its own offices or buildings.

"We think a latte levy will be the kind of charge that will make people think "I need to bring my cup to work today", in the same way that they are moving more and more to reusable plastic bottles".