UK Lawmakers Propose 'Latte Levy' To Cut Coffee Cup Waste

Laura Christensen
January 5, 2018

Britain should charge a 25-pence (US$0.34) "latte levy" on disposable coffee cups to cut down waste and ban them, if a recycling target is not met by 2023, a committee of lawmakers said on Friday. "Disposable coffee cups are an avoidable waste problem and if the United Kingdom can not be confident of their future sustainability, the government should ban them", said Creagh.

"Coffee cup producers and distributors have not taken action to rectify this and government has sat on its hands", said committee chairwoman Mary Creagh, calling for a "revolution in recycling". Half a million coffee cups are littered each day in the United Kingdom, the report said.

The MPs urged ministers to set a target that all such cups be recycled by 2023, and "if this target is not achieved, the government should ban disposable coffee cups".

Labelling - make sure that customers know that cups are "not widely recycled" and how best to dispose of their cup (this will often mean taking it back to the coffee shop).

The MPs point out that while some coffee shops offer discounts for customers who bring their own cup, only 1 to 2% of coffee drinkers respond.

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. But, the problem is: the plastic lining "can't be removed by most recycling facilities".

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

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Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, chef and campaigner, said: "The UK has woken up and smelled the coffee cup nightmare".

"We are encouraged by industry action to increase the recycling of paper cups with some major retail chains now offering discounts to customers with reusable cups", said a ministry spokeswoman.

The extra cash would be used to invest in reprocessing facilities and "binfrastructure" to ensure disposable cups and other food and drink packaging is recycled. "Nearly none are recycled and half a million a day are littered". It was the EAC's recommendations of banning microbeads that bolstered government into doing so (the full ban comes into effect this coming July).

"We will investigate the impact of a 5p charge on a paper cup, coupled with prominent marketing of reusable cups, on customer behaviour", it said in a statement posted on its website.

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.

He said he had tried, but failed, to source easily recyclable cups.

"Only by treating this issue as one that is the responsibility of both industry and consumers will re-use become the norm".

Other reports by My Hot News

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