Would you pay 25p extra for your morning coffee to cut waste?

Jan 05, 2018, 12:13
Would you pay 25p extra for your morning coffee to cut waste?

English coffee drinkers could soon be charged to use takeaway coffee cups, after the environment committee at the British parliament suggested a 25p (€0.29) levy, to combat parlous recycling rates.

Less than 1% of coffee cups in the United Kingdom are recycled.

That's just one out of every 400 cups. Half a million cups are thrown away every day, with nearly all of them incinerated, exported or landfilled.

Government sources said ministers were "open" to the idea of a coffee cup charge if evidence shows it would change behaviour.

"Their silence speaks volumes", MPs said.

"There is no excuse for the ongoing reluctance from government and industry to address coffee cup waste".

"Creagh said: "Coffee shops have been pulling the wool over customers" eyes, telling us their cups can be recycled, when less than one per cent are". But the report said that the move was not going far enough and was not effective. Other efforts were "inconsistent and need targets" to be imposed by the government.

However, the difficulties surrounding the recycling of coffee cups are manifold: not only are recycling capabilities limited but the majority of cups go straight into the general waste. "Those without in-store recycling should print cups with a 'not widely recycled" label'.

Some coffee shops give customers discounts for bringing their own refillable cups.

'Latte levy' could be imposed on UK coffee drinkers to reduce disposable cup waste

In October 2015, Britain introduced a charge of 5 pence on all single-use plastic bags provided by large shops, which led to an 83 per cent reduction in United Kingdom plastic bags used in the first year.

The committee last month recommended the government introduce a plastic bottle deposit scheme to cut plastic waste and leakage into the oceans.

Huhtamaki, the Finnish foodservice company responsible for the largest share of takeaway cups made in the United Kingdom, started a project late in 2017 to improve recycling availability for the cups alongside the largest food and drinks outlet firms.

But just four recycling companies in the United Kingdom can separate the plastic film lining the inside of the paper cup. And, the number of coffee shops has increased four-fold since 2000.

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

It is time to do something similar with coffee cups.

A spokesperson for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said the committee's recommendations would be carefully considered.

"A "latte levy" of 25p will remind people that their normal coffee cup is typically lined with plastic making it hard to recycle, with more than 99 per cent of them destined for landfill or incineration".

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