MPs Want a 'Latte Levy' to Cut Down on Disposable Cup Waste

By Tom Pritchard on at

The world loves going to coffee shops and gulping down large amounts of caffeinated beverages, but MPs aren't too impressed about the number of cups they produce. Cups that inevitably get thrown away, because keeping them around would be plain weird. To solve the issue of all that waste, some of them have suggested a new 'latter levy' to try and cut down on waste.

A new report by the Environmental Audit Committee suggests a levy of 25p a cup, with the money being used to improve recycling and reprocessing facilities here in the UK. It's also been suggested that the cups be phased out, with a full ban by 2023. Unless there's evidence that they're all being recycled correctly, that is.

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

The cups are technically recyclable, but because they mix paper and plastic components there are only three recycling facilities in the UK that can deal with them. With that in mind, the committee has also asked that the government force coffee shops to label cups to inform consumers that they're not widely recycled. Any stores that have in-house recycling options should also label their cups to reflect that.

Naturally the proposal is being opposed by the people who make the paper cups. According to the BBC, The Paper Cup Alliance's Mike Turner claims that paper cups are the best and most sustainable solution for people drinking on the go:

"The paper cups we manufacture in the UK are sustainably sourced, responsibly produced, recyclable and, through a number of facilities, are being recycled. We are committed to 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."

A lot of coffee shops offer discounts if people bring their own cup, but MPs claim that only 1-2 per cent of people actually take advantage of that. So, in part thanks to the recent plastic bag charge, they've decided people are more likely to respond to the increase in price.

The government has agreed that plastic waste is a problem, and has promised to look into a tax on single-use plastics, and plans to reveal a new policy later this year. [BBC News]

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