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

05 January 2018, 12:59 | Marta Robbins

A commuter carries a disposable coffee cup in London Britain

A commuter carries a disposable coffee cup in London Britain

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. "We agree with the committee that if complete recycling of coffee cups isn't reached by 2023, then there should be an outright ban on providing them - and that date should be set in stone".

Ministers are already looking at the plans amid a shake-up of waste management in the United Kingdom after the Chancellor hinted at a review of non-recyclable packaging in his Budget past year.

Less than 1% of coffee cups are recycled in Britain because of the tightly-bonded plastic liner, the difficulties of recycling packaging which has been in contact with food and drink and a lack of facilities, the lawmakers said.

"The UK throws away 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups every year, enough to circle the planet five and a half times", she said in a statement.

The committee said it was "disappointed" that only Costa and Starbucks provided written evidence for its investigation, and not other major retailers, including Caffe Nero and the supermarket chains Tesco, Morrisons and Pret a Manger.

"We recognise there is growing concern about the number of single-use paper cups being used and that our customers are interested in ways we can help them reduce, reuse and recycle", said a Starbucks spokeswoman.

Labour MP Mary Creagh, chair of the committee said: "Coffee cup producers and distributors have not taken action to rectify this and the government has sat on its hands".

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

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Huhtamaki, the Finnish foodservice company responsible for the largest share of takeaway cups made in the United Kingdom, started a project late in 2017 to improve recycling availability for the cups alongside the largest food and drinks outlet firms. Cafes with in-store recycling systems should print their cups with "recyclable in store only", the MPs add.

Starbucks said it has offered discounts for using re-usable cups since 1998, starting at 10p and rising to 50p for a few months in 2016. A spokesman said the money raised would be donated to a charity to run a study on how to change the public's behaviour and encourage the use of reusable cups.

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said the 5p plastic bag charge is proof that "these levies work".

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

Only one per cent of the cups sold by caf├ęs "to-go" are recycled, most are sent for landfill or incineration.

Additionally, it said that producers needed to pay more for packaging that proved hard to recycle, and that labeling needed to be improved so that consumers knew how to properly dispose of their cups.

The committee last month recommended the government introduce a plastic bottle deposit scheme to cut plastic waste and leakage into the oceans.

Now the Environmental Audit Committee's plan to bring in a tax on disposable coffee cups is in the proposal stage.



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