Published: Mon, January 08, 2018
Finance | By Cynthia Curry

UK Lawmakers Propose 'Latte Levy' To Cut Coffee Cup Waste

UK Lawmakers Propose 'Latte Levy' To Cut Coffee Cup Waste

MPs think adding an extra 25p on to the price of a disposable cup might make people think twice.

MPs on the Environmental Audit Committee have also called for disposable cups to be completely banned by 2023 unless they can be made recyclable. "Their silence speaks volumes", MPs said.

The report proposed a 25 pence "latte levy" on disposable coffee cups, saying the money raised could be used to improve recycling facilities.

To tackle the problem, a group of British lawmakers is calling for a new £0.25 ($0.34) tax on disposable coffee cups.

"Just five retailers have taken up [one company's] cup recycling initiative and the firm has recycled just 10m cups following a target of 500 million a year."

Labour MP Mary Creagh, chair of the committee said, "Coffee cup producers and distributors have not taken action to rectify this and the government has sat on its hands". This adds to the financial burden on taxpayers, who already cover 90% of the cost of collecting, sorting and disposing of waste coffee cups.

Disposable cups contain a plastic lining that makes them hard and expensive to recycle. "Almost none" of them are recycled, the committee notes, and neither the coffee industry nor the government itself has really tried brainstorming a solution. This helps support better coffee cup disposal and reduces contamination, which is the biggest challenge in the recycling process.

ACE also stated that it is working with local authorities and waste management organisations to include disposable cups in kerbside collections.

"Already, we give a discount if you come in with a keep-cup, which is a reusable cup you keep yourself".

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Starbucks also began trialling a fully-recyclable coffee cup, invented by the entrepreneur and engineer Martin Myerscough, in some of its United Kingdom branches in June past year.

Following publication of the report, global coffee giant Starbucks says it will try out a 5 pence (5.6 euro cents) cup charge in some of its London coffee shops. The three-month trial will begin in February.

"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."

"There's going to have to be a change to the recipe of the cups to make them degradable".

Starbucks says the 5p charge is one of a number of measures to encourage a switch to reusable cups.

"The whole point is to change behaviour and I'm glad the select committee has endorsed this Liberal Democrat campaign", he said.

"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".

Nathan says that Pearlfisher now works with James Cropper, a paper supplier that is able to separate the polythene lining of paper cups from the paper. Many coffee drinkers are not aware of this and put their cups into recycling bins.

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