United Kingdom lawmakers back tax on disposable coffee cups

Jan 05, 2018, 12:58
United Kingdom lawmakers back tax on disposable coffee cups

Members of Parliament are calling for the introduction of a "latte levy" - a 25p tax on disposable coffee cups used when purchasing drinks from shops including Costa, Starbucks and Pret A Manger.

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.

"Almost none are recycled and half a million a day are littered".

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

On Friday Starbucks said that it would start a three-month trial of a 5p paper cup charge in up to 25 London shops from next month.

Creagh said coffee shops have been "pulling the wool" over customers' eyes by saying their cups are recyclable.

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Evidence from Eunomia Research and Consulting suggests that a "latte levy" of 25 pence on single-use cups could reduce their use by up to 30 per cent, a figure supported by Cardiff University, which conducted a study into the efficacy of charges and other measures and revealed that consumers are far more responsive to a charge than a discount.

Coffee cups are hard to recycle, due to the plastic liner which makes them waterproof.

In October past year, organisations from across the paper cup supply chain signed an agreement with the Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment (ACE UK) to accelerate UK recycling of PE lined paper cups (see letsrecycle.com story). "We now have 1.8 percent of our customers using reusable cups", it said in a statement.

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.

A report published by the cross-party group says there is "no excuse for the reluctance we have seen from government and industry to address coffee cup waste". "Nearly none are recycled and half a million a day are littered".

The MPs say throwaway cups should be prohibited altogether by 2023 if they are not all being recycled.

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

The Committee has asked the Government to require coffee cups from cafes without in-store recycling systems to be printing with "not widely recycled" labels to raise awareness of the issue.

This week, Pret doubled the discount offered to customers who bring in a reusable coffee cup from 25p to 50p.

Even when consumers place coffee cups in recycling bins, there's now no way for recycling plants to recycle them.

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".

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