Parliament Proposes 'Latte Levy' to Curb England's Cup Waste

Rachel Hardy
January 7, 2018

The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee in Parliament wants a "latte levy" imposed on coffee cups - a move members believe will show citizens how much waste their country produces in general, and how wasteful coffee cups are in particular.

"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".

On the same day that MPs have recommended a 25 pence charge be added to all drinks sold in a disposable paper cup in the United Kingdom, environmental campaign charity Hubbub has announced plans with Starbucks to put the suggestion to the test. Or should they even be banned altogether? A 25p charge, which works out at over £20,000 per tonne, would most likely be considered as legally accounting for the producer responsibility obligation for disposable cups so effectively shifting the charge from the producer to the consumer. It also offers a discount of 25 pence to customers who bring their own cups.

Many coffee shops including Costa, Pret and Starbucks offer a discount if you take a reusable cup with you.

The Committee stated that this type of cups should be banned unless the recycling target is met. Meanwhile, Starbucks is going to test out its own disposable cup surcharge in a few dozen London locations to see if it causes more customers to bring their own reusable cups, CBS News reports.

Buy a reusable glass coffee cup here. In the trial, "we will be exploring the impact that a cup charge may have in changing behaviour in addition to the measures we, and the whole industry, are taking on cup recycling", Starbucks said.

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One system created to tackle the problem already exists. Is it about raising more money - from producers or consumers or both - to develop new, separate collection, sorting and treatment infrastructure for coffee cups and (surely) other forms of disposable food and beverage packaging?

"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".

He added that paper cups are the "most sustainable and safe solution" for drinks on the go. Coffee shops have been sending out mixed messages for years, emphasising that their cups are "recyclable" and staying silent on the fact they are not actually recycled.

"The onus should not just be on the consumer. With all the will in the world we can't make that change and we wish we could", he said.

"We heard evidence that consumers are more responsive to a charge than a discount and that a charge on disposable cups could reduce use by up to 30 percent."

"They are the ones who are expert in manufacturing". He says the industry is working to increase recycling rates.

Other reports by TheDailyFarc

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