MPs Want a 'Latter Levy' to Cut Down on Disposable Cup Waste

05 January, 2018, 13:40 | Author: Katrina Soto
  • A latte levy is only the start when it comes to tackling coffee cup waste

While the Irish government has already proposed a charge on disposable coffee cups, and Bristol City Council recently voted to charge for cups in all its buildings, United Kingdom officials have so far been loathe to commit to a similar scheme, with Resources Minister Therese Coffey commenting in November that voluntary action was already being taken within the industry (for instance, Starbucks offer a 25 pence discount for using a disposable cup).

The latte levy was proposed in a new report authored by the Environmental Audit Committee, which revealed that many coffee consumers "mistakenly think that disposable cups are widely recycled".

In a recently published report, a House of Commons committee said the Government had "sat on its hands" as disposable coffee cup waste has grown to an estimated 25,000 tons per year.

SUEZ recycling and recovery United Kingdom serves around 12 million people and handles around 10 million tonnes of waste each year.

Welsh ministers are considering asking for powers to tax the cups and other plastics that are hard to recycle. Mary Creagh, chair of the Environmental Audit Committee said the so-called "latte levy" being charged on top of the price of a drink would pay to improve the UK's reprocessing facilities and "binfastructure" and ultimately change people's behaviour.

According to EAC, 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups are thrown away annually in the United Kingdom, with nearly none being recycled and half a million per day being littered. "Nearly none are recycled and half a million a day are littered".

Takeaway beverage chains including Caffè Nero, Costa Coffee, McDonald's, Pret A Manger and Starbucks have signed up to a scheme to collect and recycle more of the current types of cup. The trial will begin next month and initially last for three months.

"Prevention remains the best environmental option and as a minimum, CIWM would like to see renewed efforts by coffee retailers to promote reusable cups to their customers and a government-backed voluntary agreement might be a sensible first step". If an effective recycling system is not established and achieves high levels of recycling by this date, the Government should ban disposable coffee cups.

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ACE also stated that it is working with local authorities and waste management organisations to include disposable cups in kerbside collections.

Richard Burnett, from James Cropper, one of only three companies that recycles coffee cups, supported the 25p charge if the money is used to support the infrastructure to recycle them.

When environmentalists first mooted the idea of a levy on plastic bags, plenty of eyes rolled. We are committed to increasing recycling rates.

Numbers of the throwaway cups have hugely increased in recent years.

Make companies pay for producing mixed material packaging which is hard to recycle (coffee cups are a paper shell with a plastic lining bonded to the paper).

And sceptics should remember the impact of the 5p charge on single-use carrier bags.

"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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