Charge on coffee cups to boost recycling proposed by United Kingdom lawmakers

05 January, 2018, 13:37 | Author: Phil Peters
  • Image for MPs ask the Government to wake up smell the coffee and introduce a 25p ’latte levy

The Committee's report also recommends that all single-use coffee cups are recycled by 2023, and if this isn't in effect by then that there is an outright coffee cup ban. Last night Starbucks became the first firm to break ranks, saying it would pilot a 5p charge in selected stores from next month. Criticised at first, it has made a discernible difference, hence why this latest proposal should be regarded as an opportunity to protect the environment rather than just another tax that milks consumers.

A lot of coffee shops offer discounts if people bring their own cup, but MPs claim that only 1-2 per cent of people actually take advantage of that.

In October previous 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).

Introduce a 25p "latte levy" on disposable coffee cups - this 25p charge is paid by the customer - there's no charge if you bring a reusable cup.

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

Starbucks said on Friday it would trial a 5p charge on takeaway coffee cups for three months in about 20 London cafes.

Sandwich chain Pret a Manger has announced that it is doubling the discount for customers who bring in reusable cups to 50p.

Since 2015, English consumers have been charged five pence for single use plastic bags at large shops.

The vast majority end up in landfill or incineration, with 500,000 a day dropped as litter.

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"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".

If all disposable coffee cups are recycled by 2023, that will require a lot of infrastructure - there are only three recycling facilities in the United Kingdom that can split the paper from the plastic for recycling at present (which is why less than 1% of cups are recycled). If this target is not achieved, the Government should ban disposable coffee cups'.

Research by psychologists suggests charging customers 25p for a disposable cup would have a greater impact, reducing the number sold by up to 30%.

And, the committee also stated that the tax should go towards improving recycling and reprocessing facilities.

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".

But just four recycling companies in the United Kingdom can separate the plastic film lining the inside of the paper cup.

This was welcomed by the committee, which heard evidence during the inquiry that consumer confusion around coffee cups is contributing to poor recycling rates. We will carefully consider the committee's recommendations and respond shortly'.

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.

It added that if disposable coffee cups aren't all fully recyclable by 2023, they should be banned.

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