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

Latte levy: Coffee cups could be banned by 2023

Reusable cups are on the up, thanks to a number of campaigns centred around making the public aware that disposable coffee cups are in general not easily recyclable.

"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 spokeswoman.

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

Yet if the 25p tax, advocated today by Parliament's Environmental Audit Committee headed by Wakefield MP Mary Creagh, changes behaviour, encourages recycling and reduces the amount of discarded plastic, it's a small price to pay - the United Kingdom throws away 2.5 billion disposal coffee cups every year.

"Almost none are recycled and half a million a day are littered".

As MPs put pressure on Government for "Latte levy", service design opportunities could be brewing but only if a new circular economy coffee cup system can be conceived.

"The UK's coffee shop market is expanding rapidly, so we need to kick-start a revolution in recycling".

Starbucks says that it has already tried to change consumer behaviour by discounting reusable cups at the point of sale.

The US firm said it would trial a 5p charge on its cups at up to 25 of its London coffee shops in wake of the MPs' report.

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said the 5p plastic bag charge is proof that "these levies work".

Thomas also identifies that it would cost around 5p tax per cup to support a cup recycling network on a national scale but she agrees that if the coffee houses had to pay a 25p levy it would be a preventative act that is more likely to effect change. Spokesman Mike Turner said: 'The paper cups we manufacture in the United Kingdom are sustainably sourced, responsibly produced, recyclable and. are being recycled. The report points out that while a number of large coffee retailers offer a 25p discount to customers bringing their own cups, awareness and uptake has been very low (around 1%) to date.

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On Friday the environment ministry said the government was working closely with the sector and had made progress in increasing recycling rates.

"Taxing the morning coffee run will not address the issue of litter, but it will hurt consumers and impact already struggling High Streets".

Sandwich chain Pret a Manger has announced that it is doubling the discount for customers who bring in reusable cups to 50p.

A 5p charge on coffee cups was first proposed by the Liberal Democrats after it emerged a year ago that only one in 400 was being recycled.

Last night chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall - whose BBC show Hugh's War on Waste first drew attention to the paper cup problem - said the report showed "the United Kingdom has finally woken up and smelled the coffee cup nightmare". "Those without in-store recycling should print cups with a 'not widely recycled" label'.

The Environmental Audit Committee said the tax is needed to halt the "avoidable waste problem" of some 2.5bn coffee cups thrown away each year. "Unlike in say Italy, where a small coffee will be drunk quickly in a coffee house from a porcelain cup, in the United Kingdom large coffees are drunk in large cups and dumped into a variety of bins". "Coffee cup producers and distributors have not taken action to rectify this and government has sat on its hands".

The British Coffee Association's Chris Stemman also welcomed the report's broad principles, but said a levy was not the answer.

If you send us one of the 100 most useful comments, we'll forward it on to the Environmental Audit Committee and we'll send you an Independent-branded reusable coffee cup.

Mr Stemman said the industry should continue to focus on other environmental issues such as cutting water use, carbon reduction, and turning waste coffee grounds into biofuel.

KeepCup has calculated that if all United Kingdom outlets using disposable cups could reach 30% reuse rates, approximately 750 million disposable cups would be diverted from landfill every year.

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