Wednesday, 17 January, 2018

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

A cross-party committee called for urgent action to curb the mountain of up to five billion disposable coffee cups dumped each year in the UK almost none of which are recycled MPs Want a 'Latter Levy' to Cut Down on Disposable Cup Waste
Lillian Steele | 05 January, 2018, 13:43

The report, by the Commons' Environmental Audit Committee, calls for better labelling for consumers, and for United Kingdom ministers to introduce measures to make sure all coffee cups are recycled within five years.

Committee chair Mary Creagh said: "The UK throws away 2.5bn disposable coffee cups every year; enough to circle the planet five and a half times".

While looking like paper, they have a polypropylene plastic lining.

"We urge the government to ensure that if any potential tax is considered, that it is ring-fenced and used specifically to invest in new "binfrastructure" and to improve recycling processes with local authorities that make it easier to separate and stream paper cups and other waste products".

The Committee's report also recommends that all single-use coffee cups are recycled by 2023, and if this isn't in effect by then that there is an outright coffee cup ban.

The report sheds light on the UK's growing love affair with coffee, and the resultant impact on coffee cup use.

The government now follows targets set by the EU Waste Directive for recycling paper and plastic, but none refers specifically to the mixed-material cups; moreover, there are no confirmed targets in place for once the United Kingdom leaves the European Union. Costa is also collecting cups from rival brands in its shops.

Back in 2016 it trialled applying a 50p discount for customers using reusable cups, but it said that this "did not move the needle in the way we thought it might".

A latte levy is only the start when it comes to tackling coffee cup waste

Starbucks said on Friday it would trial a 5p charge on takeaway coffee cups for three months in about 20 London cafes.

However, the EA committee said although some cup manufacturers and coffee shops had made voluntary commitments to recycle coffee cups, they are "inconsistent, and lack quantifiable targets and structure". The multi-layer material prevents the cup being recycled in exclusively paper or plastics recycling streams.

If the target of 100 percent recycling of disposable cups is not achieved by 2023, then the government is called to put a ban disposable cups similar to the one now imposed on plastic bags.

"We think a latte levy will be the kind of charge that will make people think "I need to bring my cup to work today", in the same way that they are moving more and more to reusable plastic bottles".

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 a year ago. This helps support better coffee cup disposal and reduces contamination, which is the biggest challenge in the recycling process.

The lawmakers have also recommended the government to charge more from producers for their packaging which are hard to recycle as well as improve labeling in order to educate consumers on how to dispose of their cup in best possible way.

The committee's recommendations were welcomed by environmental campaigners. "Only by treating this issue as one that is the responsibility of both industry and consumers will reuse become the norm in place of single-use and throw away".

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