Starbucks is the First Coffee Chain to Launch a 5p Latte Levy in the UK

By Tom Pritchard on at

Back in January MPs proposed a 5p charge on people buying coffee and other hot drinks in the takeaway 'paper' cups that are actually made of a hard-to-recycle blend of plastic and paper, something Starbucks promptly decided to trial in some of its London branches. While some ministers were sceptical of this 'latte levy', the coffee chain has now announced it's expanded that charge to another 950 branches across the UK.

The move is set to take place on 26th July, in a bid to reduce the amount of waste the company produces from cups that are notoriously difficult to recycle properly. So the overwhelming majority of them aren't. This means that anyone who wants one of the takeaway cups will have to pay an extra 5p for their overpriced drink, which is avoided by people who hang around inside each store drinking out of a ceramic mug. People who have reusable cups won't be affected either, and will still get a 25p discount for packing a mug in their work bag before they leave each morning.

Apparently the branches participating in the initial trial saw a 126 per cent rise in the use of reusable cups, which Martin Brok, the president of Starbucks Europe, Middle East and Africa, said was "encouraging".

“We saw encouraging results from the first three months of this trial with Hubbub and what stood out to us was the positive response we had from our employees and customers.

Extending this to all our stores across Britain is an exciting step and we’re hoping this charge will remind customers to rethink their use of single-use plastic as they have with plastic bags.”

Starbucks proper has also announced its plans to ditch single-use plastic straws by 2020, following on from the likes of McDonald's which will be rolling out paper straws later this year. Iced drinks will now come with a new type of fully recyclable lid with a built in spout, which can't get stuck inside a turtle's nose. Straws won't be disappearing altogether, with the company promising they'll still be available for anyone who needs one of orders a Frappuccino. Those straws are still being changed, though, and Starbucks promises the new ones will be made out of paper or compostable plastic.

Those lids are already available for select drinks in 8,000 North American branches, with a wider American and European planned next year. The lids are also currently being trialled in Japan, China, Singapore, Vietnam, and Thailand, while th company has reiterated its commitment to spending $10 million on developing a fully recyclable and compostable cup for hot drinks. [Guardian | Starbucks]