‘Latte Levy’ of 25p Urged by British MPs

Connector Winter 2018

MPs in the UK are calling for a 25p “latte levy” on disposable coffee cups – and a total ban unless recycling improves.

A report by the Environmental Audit Committee says the tax should be used to improve the UK’s recycling and reprocessing facilities.

Environmental Audit Committee Chair, Mary Creagh MP, said: “The UK’s coffee shop market is expanding rapidly, so we need to kick start a revolution in recycling…Coffee shops have been pulling the wool over customers’ eyes, telling us their cups can be recycled, when less than 1% are. The Government should set a target for all disposable coffee cups to be recycled by 2023. If a sustainable recycling system for disposable coffee cups cannot be set up by this date, they should be banned.”

“Taxpayers are footing the bill for disposing of the billions of coffee cups thrown away each year, whether or not they are coffee drinkers. 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.”

In response, Starbucks said it would try out a 5p cup charge in 20 to 25 central London outlets that will be accompanied by marketing to promote the use of reusable cups.

“We will begin the trial in February and initially it will last for three months,” the firm said, adding that it continued to offer a 25p discount to customers who brought their own reusable cups.

Starbucks will be partnering with sustainability charity Hubbub to launch the trial. Proceeds from the charge will be used by Hubbub to run a comprehensive study into behaviour change, including research into how to encourage consumers to adopt reusable cups.

The government agrees plastic waste is a problem and will seek evidence on a tax on single-use plastics.

The committee’s chair, Mary Creagh MP, said: “The UK throws away 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups every year – that’s enough to circle the planet five and a half times.

“Almost none are recycled and half a million a day are littered. Coffee cup producers and distributors have not taken action to rectify this and government has sat on its hands.

The Liberal Democrats said they had been campaigning for a charge on coffee cups since September 2016 and were the only party to include the policy in their 2017 election manifesto. The party’s environment spokesman, Tim Farron, said: “I’m glad our call for a coffee cup charge is gaining traction.

“The evidence is clear that these levies work – the 5p charge on plastic bags has massively reduced usage and helped protect our environment.”

The proposed 25p levy is being opposed by the makers of paper cups.

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.

Following the success of the plastic bag charge, they have concluded that consumers respond more to sticks than to carrots.

The plastic lining in coffee cups makes them costly to recycle, and the MPs say the businesses supplying and producing them do not bear the full costs of their disposal.

Disposable coffee cups are technically recyclable, but most are not because the UK has just three facilities that can split the paper and plastic components for recycling.

The committee has called on the government to require coffee cups from cafes without in-store recycling systems to carry “not widely recycled” labels to increase consumer awareness. Cafes with in-store recycling systems should print their cups with “recyclable in store only”, the MPs add.

Source: BBC News and edie.net