losangelesnewstoday.com
losangelesnewstoday.com April 25, 2018


United Kingdom lawmakers call for 'latte levy' on takeaway cups

05 January 2018, 12:58 | Katrina Lee

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

Starbucks to test coffee cup charge as industry responds to EAC report

Funds from the so-called "latte levy" would be used to improve recycling facilities nationwide, Parliament's cross-party Environmental Audit Committee said on Friday in an emailed report.

While the Irish government has already proposed a charge on disposable coffee cups, and Bristol City Council recently voted to charge for cups in all its buildings, United Kingdom officials have so far been loathe to commit to a similar scheme, with Resources Minister Therese Coffey commenting in November that voluntary action was already being taken within the industry (for instance, Starbucks offer a 25 pence discount for using a disposable cup).

"Almost none are recycled and half a million a day are littered".

Labour MP Mary Creagh, chair of the committee said: "Coffee cup producers and distributors have not taken action to rectify this and the government has sat on its hands".

With coffee shops now a fixture in British society, the committee said that consumers are more responsive to extra charges than to discounts for bringing in their own reusable 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.

The UK uses 30,000 tons of coffee cup waste each year.

"We recognise there is growing concern about the number of single-use paper cups being used and that our customers are interested in ways we can help them reduce, reuse and recycle", said a Starbucks spokeswoman.

Even when consumers place coffee cups in recycling bins, there's now no way for recycling plants to recycle them.

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"The committee has recognised that the huge mountain of disposable coffee cups is effectively unrecyclable, and is overwhelming and disrupting the nation's waste disposal systems, ultimately polluting our rivers and seas, and needs urgent action".

The MPs say the charge would lead to 750 million fewer disposable cups being discarded as litter, incinerated or sent to landfill, and would generate £438m.

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.

A target of all single-use cups to be recycled by 2023 is also recommended in the report, as well as an overhaul of the United Kingdom producer responsibility scheme, something discussed with regards to plastic bottles in the EAC's previous report.

But just four recycling companies in the United Kingdom can separate the plastic film lining the inside of the paper cup. It's also been suggested that the cups be phased out, with a full ban by 2023.

"We will investigate the impact of a 5p charge on a paper cup, coupled with prominent marketing of reusable cups, on customer behaviour", it said in a statement posted on its website.

He said that for the so-called "latte levy" to be more than just "a light and frothy foam nod to reform" the United Kingdom needs to invest more in sustainable product design, use more recyclable materials and be better at "capturing" materials at the end of their life.

"Only by treating this issue as one that is the responsibility of both industry and consumers will re-use become the norm".

This, the Committee said, will be achieved by a two-pronged approach - by making produces pay more for difficult-to-recycle packaging, and by improving labelling.



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