Charge for coffee cups will help tackle packaging waste, say MPs


Coffee chain Starbucks on Friday announced plans to introduce a 5p cup charge in around 20-25 of its shops in London that will go to environmental charities, saying that it too, had found discounts ineffective.

A 25p "latte levy" should be placed on disposable coffee cups and all must be recycled by 2023 or face being banned altogether, say MPs.

The chief executive of one of the biggest waste and recycling operations in the United Kingdom has said that while taxes on takeaway coffee cups may provide a helpful nudge to consumers to abandon a throw-away culture, they won't bring about lasting change in isolation.

The UK generates 30,000 tonnes of coffee cup waste a year - enough to fill the Royal Albert Hall.

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".

"Coffee cup producers and distributors have not taken action to rectify this and government has sat on its hands", said committee chairwoman Mary Creagh, calling for a "revolution in recycling".

It added: "We recommend that the Government sets a target that all single use coffee cups disposed of in recycling bins should be recycled by 2023".

ACE also stated that it is working with local authorities and waste management organisations to include disposable cups in kerbside collections.

While some coffee shops did offer discounts to customers who brought their own cups, the committee said that uptake of such offers was between just 1 and 2 percent of coffee purchases.

Richard Burnett, from James Cropper, one of only three companies that recycles coffee cups, supported the 25p charge if the money is used to support the infrastructure to recycle them.

Starbucks said it has offered discounts for using re-usable cups since 1998, starting at 10p and rising to 50p for a few months in 2016.

Instead coffee chains perpetuated customer confusion that cups are widely recyclable when they are not.

"The evidence is clear that these levies work - the 5p charge on plastic bags has massively reduced usage and helped protect our environment".

He said he had tried, but failed, to source easily recyclable cups. "No packaging type is totally recycled and a ban on paper cups would hit manufacturing jobs and damage a growing service industry which makes a major contribution to UK Plc", said Mike Turner, Speaking on behalf of the Alliance.

The government's environmental watchdog, the EAC (Environmental Audit Committee*) have today released a report recommending that a 25p charge is added to hot drinks served in disposable takeaway cups.

United Kingdom politicians want the government to introduce a 25p (33 cents) "latte levy" on disposable coffee cups in an effort to eliminate waste.

Since 2015, English consumers have been charged five pence for single use plastic bags at large shops.

The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) said it welcomed Friday's recommendations from the Environmental Audit Committee.