United Kingdom lawmakers call for 'latte levy' on takeaway cups

Coffee cup recycling

COFFEE lovers should be charged 25p for disposable cups, with revenue used to pay for improved recycling, MPs have urged.

Around 2.5 billion plastic-lined paper cups are used in Britain each year, but less than one in 400 are recycled, MPs on the environmental audit committee warned in a new report.

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.

Environmental audit committee chairwoman Mary Creagh said: "The UK throws away 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups every year; enough to circle the planet five and a half times". Half a million cups are thrown away every day, with nearly all of them incinerated, exported or landfilled.

Costa Coffee said it offered a 25 pence discount to those using reusable cups but the government needed to focus on improving recycling infrastructure.

Now the United Kingdom goes through 500,000 coffee cups a day, most of which are not recycled - and can't be thanks to the mix of materials that makes them sturdy and waterproof.

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

"We think a latte levy will be the kind of charge that will make people think "I need to bring my cup to work today", in the same way that they are moving more and more to reusable plastic bottles".

Starbucks

'Taxing the morning coffee run will not address the issue of litter but it will hurt consumers and impact already struggling high streets'. "We are committed to increasing recycling rates", said Mike Turner, of the Paper Cup Alliance.

A coffee cup recycling point is displayed in the City of London.

Less than 1 per cent 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.

Its environment spokesman, Martin Tett, said: "We have long called for industry to step up and show more responsibility in tackling this issue". Any stores that have in-house recycling options should also label their cups to reflect that.

The tax would fund plants capable of recycling the cups, persuade people to carry reusable cups and encourage the use of traditional ceramic mugs in workplaces, the report said.

The committee's recommendations were welcomed by environmental campaigners.

"The committee has recognised that the huge mountain of disposable coffee cups is effectively unrecylable, and is overwhelming and disrupting the nation's waste disposal systems, ultimately polluting our rivers and seas, and needs urgent action".




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