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United Kingdom needs 'latte levy' on disposable coffee cups to cut waste: lawmakers

05 January, 2018, 12:13 | Author: Priscilla Morrison
  • Coffee cup recycling

The UK Environmental Audit Committee is urging the government to charge 25p "latte levy" on disposable coffee cups.

The Environmental Audit Committee believes that all disposable coffee cups should be recycled by 2023.

The committee's report added that the government should adopt a "producer responsibility compliance fee structure" that rewards design for recyclability and raises charges on packaging that is hard to recycle.

Approximately 1.5 billion disposable cups are thrown away each year in the United Kingdom, enough to circle the Earth five and a half times, but only 0.25 percent of these are recycled.

Dr Laura Foster, Head of Clean Seas at campaign group the Marine Conservation Society, said: "A charge added to our coffee at the point of purchase will help consumers think about whether to take a refillable cup to the café and encourage cafés to use traditional cups and mugs rather than hand out single-use cups when it's not necessary".

'We recommend the Government sets a target that all single use coffee cups should be recycled by 2023.

In addition, the committee also has suggested that the government should set up a producer responsibility compliance fee structure that rewards packaging design which facilitates recycling and puts a fine on packaging, which is hard to recycle.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "In our Programme for Government, we have already committed to examining ways to reduce the use of single-use items, such as through a possible levy on coffee cups".




According to the report, "almost half of all coffees and hot drinks" are sold in disposable cups. If this target is not achieved, the Government should ban disposable coffee cups'.

The chain will partner with charity Hubbub to launch the London-based trial, and money generated from the charge will be used for studies into behaviour change and attitudes towards the uptake of reusable cups.

Its environment spokesman, Martin Tett, said: "We have long called for industry to step up and show more responsibility in tackling this issue".

Even when consumers place coffee cups in recycling bins, there's now no way for recycling plants to recycle them.

Numerous cups are printed with the three-arrow triangular "Mobius loop" symbol that eight out of ten people think means they can be put in the recycling.

"By generating greater volumes of cups for recycling this will create a market for the material, making cups more attractive to waste management companies and creating the potential for more schemes to be introduced to collect cups from a much wider range of locations such as offices and high street locations".

However, MPs criticised coffee chains for confusing customers by perpetuating the notion coffee cups are recyclable.

The committee's recommendations were welcomed by environmental campaigners.

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