Call for 'latte levy' to cut disposable coffee cup waste

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

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 government's environmental watchdog, the EAC (Environmental Audit Committee*) have today released a report recommending that a 25p charge is added to hot drinks served in disposable takeaway cups.

In October a year ago, 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).

The Paper Cup Alliance welcomed the recognition of industry efforts to increase recycling but cautioned against measures that hurt consumers and harm the high street economy.

"The U.K.'s coffee shop market is expanding rapidly, so we need to kick start a revolution in recycling", she said. Nearly none are recycled and half a million a day are littered.

"The UK throws away 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups every year - that's enough to circle the planet five and a half times. Nearly none are recycled and half a million a day are littered".

Disposable coffee cups can be tricky to recycle because most are made with a combination of paper and plastic. The trial will begin next month and initially last for three months.

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

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

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

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The chain will partner with charity Hubbub to launch the London-based trial, and money generated from the charge will be used for studies into behaviour change and attitudes towards the uptake of reusable cups.

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.

"Finally, we will continue to remind customers through our in-store marketing about the ongoing 25p cup discount and the benefits of going reusable".

The party's environment spokesman, Tim Farron, said: "I'm glad our call for a coffee cup charge is gaining traction".

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said the 5p plastic bag charge is proof that "these levies work". "The government must do the same and introduce the levy as soon as possible".

Foodservice Packaging Association executive director Martin Kersh fears a ban on disposable cups would cause some coffee shops to close.

The "latte levy" is one of several potential solutions to disposable packaging outlined by the Committee.

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).

It recommended that a 25p tax should be applied to single use cups to encourage consumers to use alternatives. But, the problem is: the plastic lining "can't be removed by most recycling facilities".

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