Tuesday, 23 January, 2018

United Kingdom may impose tax on disposable cups

Andrew Aitchison via Getty Images                   The UK throws away 2.5bn disposable coffee cups every year Andrew Aitchison via Getty Images The UK throws away 2.5bn disposable coffee cups every year
Cristina Norman | 08 January, 2018, 03:55

In a 37-page report on disposable coffee cups, the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee also proposed banning disposable paper cups entirely by 2023 if they are not all being recycled.

In response to a group of MPs calling for a 25p "latte levy" on disposable paper coffee cups, Starbucks has revealed that it will trial a 5p charge across select London stores.

In the United Kingdom 2.5 billion takeaway coffee cups are used and thrown away each year enough to stretch around the world five and a half times. Since litter encourages more littering, this creates a vicious cycle.

The paper cup industry warned a tax would hurt coffee chains, and said the government should instead focus on providing more recycling points.

'We recommend the Government sets a target that all single use coffee cups should be recycled by 2023.

Hardly any of them are recycled because the resin they are covered in makes it costly to do so, which means most end up being incinerated or in landfill emitting methane as they decompose and leaking ink into the environment.

Coffee chains have been "pulling the wool over the eyes" of customers by letting them believe paper cups can be recycled, MPs warned. Costa is also collecting cups from rival brands in its shops.

"If they were recycling it themselves, they'd bring reusable cups with them". But just 1 to 2% of customers do this.

"We heard evidence that consumers are more responsive to a charge than a discount and that a charge on disposable cups could reduce use by up to 30 percent."

In a series of trials at 12 coffee shops in Cardiff, the study found almost a 20% increase in hot drinks sales with reusable cups if stores offer free reusable coffee cups and charged for disposable ones.

"It is unacceptable that coffee sellers are perpetuating customer confusion though their use of recycling labels and emphasis on the recyclability of coffee cups, despite the shockingly low recycling rate", the report said.

Starbucks said it will also make an effort to ensure people who drink in its shops have a china cup.

Mr Palmer-Jones said: "For any so-called latte tax to be more than just a light and frothy foam nod to reform, we need to wake up and smell the real coffee needed for a lasting brew".

About 2.5 billion paper cups are used in the United Kingdom every year. "The government must do the same and introduce the levy as soon as possible".

The Daily Mail has led calls to "curb the cups" and crack down on plastic, campaigning to protect the environment with measures such as a deposit scheme for plastic bottles and the 5p levy on disposable plastic carrier bags.

Foodservice Packaging Association executive director Martin Kersh fears a ban on disposable cups would cause some coffee shops to close.

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