United Kingdom proposes 'latte levy' on disposable coffee cups
United Kingdom proposes 'latte levy' on disposable coffee cups
Some 2.5bn coffee cups are thrown away each year
08 January, 2018, 03:55
While the environmental impact of charging extra for disposable cups would seem to be clear, based on the drop in use of plastic bags, retailers may not be so happy.
In response to a group of MPs calling for a 25p "latte levy" on disposable paper coffee cups, Starbucks has revealed that it will trial a 5p charge across select London stores. According to the report, just 0.25 per cent of cups are recycled, and 500,000 are littered every day.
"The UK's coffee shop market is expanding rapidly, so we need to kick-start a revolution in recycling", Committee Chairwoman Mary Creagh said in a statement.
The growing problem saw members of Ms Creagh's committee also say that if all cups are not recycled within five years an outright ban should be placed on them.
"Take-away coffee cups may look like cardboard through-and-through but on the inside they are lined with a plastic, making them hard to recycle and resulting in 99 per cent of them being destined for landfill or incineration".
Starbucks says that it has already tried to change consumer behaviour by discounting reusable cups at the point of sale.
Coffee chains have been "pulling the wool over the eyes" of customers by letting them believe paper cups can be recycled, MPs warned. At this scale, only one in every 400 cups is recycled.
"At the same time, we will redouble our efforts to ensure that drink-in customers are always offered a ceramic cup, thus cutting paper use even further", added Starbucks.
The Liberal Democrats said they had been campaigning for a charge on coffee cups since September 2016 and were the only party to include the policy in their 2017 election manifesto.
"Finally, we will continue to remind customers through our in-store marketing about the ongoing 25p cup discount and the benefits of going reusable".
Mr Palmer-Jones said: "For any so-called latte tax to be more than just a light and frothy foam nod to reform, we need to wake up and smell the real coffee needed for a lasting brew".
Unsure of how else to hammer eco-mindedness into customers, Starbucks said today that it will try a preemptive cup charge of its own.
"The public needs a simple, United Kingdom wide solution, one which is made possible by the introduction of an on-the-go waste management infrastructure".
Costa Coffee, which operates over 2,000 stores in the United Kingdom, said the government should consider "a mix of measures to address this issue with a focus on improving.... waste and recycling infrastructure".
In his Budget, Chancellor Philip Hammond described plastic waste as a "scourge" and announced that he and Environment Secretary Michael Gove would investigate a single-use plastic tax to reduce waste.
The figure is much less than the 25p suggested by MPs as the sort of levy that would drive people to stop using the cups.
The Grocer has contacted Pret and Costa for comment.
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