British parliamentary committee recommends levy on take-away coffee cups

A latte levy is only the start when it comes to tackling coffee cup waste

British parliamentary committee recommends levy on take-away coffee cups

Research by psychologists suggests charging customers 25p for a disposable cup would have a greater impact, reducing the number sold by up to 30%.

David Palmer-Jones, Chief Executive Officer of SUEZ recycling and recovery United Kingdom said: "Taxes on takeaway coffee cups may provide a helpful nudge to consumers to abandon a throw-away culture, but for lasting change, proposals like these need to be part of wider, joined-up reform that shifts the burden of responsibility for all forms of packaging content, recyclability and ultimately their collection, back to the producer".

Cropper takes cups collected by coffee retailers instore recycling bins, removes the plastic and turns them into luxury paper and packaging products.

"By singling out disposable cups the committee is, by its own admission, looking for United Kingdom coffee retailers and their cup providers to underwrite the waste management of all packaging used on the go", he said.

"Whether or not the Government is willing to consider a levy, there is still a lot more work to be done by all the stakeholders involved to develop a sensible solution to this very modern waste problem".

"I am an expert in making fantastic coffee, but they (the cup manufacturers) are the ones with the knowledge and resources to be able to change".

"We are encouraged by industry action to increase the recycling of paper cups with some major retail chains now offering discounts to customers with reusable cups", said a ministry spokeswoman.

The MPs point out that while some coffee shops offer discounts for customers who bring their own cup, only 1 to 2% of coffee drinkers respond.

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 previous year.

Coffee chains have been "pulling the wool over the eyes" of customers by letting them believe paper cups can be recycled, MPs warned.

Coffee cups are used for a matter of moments, but will pollute our planet for centuries to come.

Mary Creagh MP added: "Most people are shocked and dismayed to hear that coffee cups are not recycled".

The report stresses the triumph of the plastic bags ban in the United Kingdom, and the behavioural change it created. Some predicted that it would do nothing, others that it would actually lead to even more packaging and waste.

According to EAC, 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups are thrown away annually in the United Kingdom, with nearly none being recycled and half a million per day being littered. "It is only right that producers should bear more of the financial burden to help recycle their packaging, so my committee is calling for producer responsibility reform that rewards businesses that use sustainable packaging - and makes those that don't face higher charges".

The Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: "We are already taking action towards our goal of a 'zero waste economy". Coffey told the EAC that the group's upcoming focus will be on coffee cups and specifically how to "enhance consumer understanding of what can be recycled and how". This is strong stuff, but in the meantime - with 2.5 billion coffee cups being dished out yearly - we need to make sure this happens sooner rather than later.

The rest are incinerated or buried in landfill sites because they have an inner-lining made of plastic which paper mills struggle to remove.

The full report, titled "Disposable Packaging: Coffee Cups", can be read on the EAC's website.

Latest News