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05 January 2018, 01:00 | Colleen Roy
'Latte levy' could be imposed on UK coffee drinkers to reduce disposable cup waste
Introduce a 25p "latte levy" on disposable coffee cups - this 25p charge is paid by the customer - there's no charge if you bring a reusable cup. The UK produces 30,000 tonnes of coffee cup waste each year, according to a report published by MPs on the environmental audit committee on Friday.
In Gosport, coffee cup firm Huhtamaki - which manufactures coffee cups for Starbucks - is aiming to introduce disposal points for coffee cups in the town, working alongside Gosport Borough Council.
"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".
"Almost none are recycled and half a million a day are littered", added Creagh.
He said that although disposable coffee cups only represent a small fraction of the national annual tonnage of card and plastics waste, "they leave the worst taste reminder of how on-the-go consumption can result in needless waste of our precious natural resources".
On Friday Starbucks said that it would start a three-month trial of a 5p paper cup charge in up to 25 London shops from next month.
Responding to this announcement, Dr Laura Foster of the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) said: "We totally agree with the committee that if 100 per cent recycling of coffee cups isn't reached by 2023, then there should be an outright ban on providing them - and that date should be set in stone".
Only one per cent of the cups sold by cafés "to-go" are recycled, most are sent for landfill or incineration.
The government has agreed that plastic waste is a problem, and has promised to look into a tax on single-use plastics, and plans to reveal a new policy later this year.
Veolia Environmental Services responded to the report saying that it is already leading a solution to collect, recycle and re-use Britain's coffee cups, which has seen 10 million of them recycled in the last eight months.
The money raised from those who refused would be used to increase the number of recycling plants able to handle plastic-lined take-away cups.
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.
"There is no excuse for the ongoing reluctance from government and industry to address coffee cup waste".
The MPs say throwaway cups should be prohibited altogether by 2023 if they are not all being recycled.
In a statement, Starbucks said: "We will investigate the impact of a 5p charge on a paper cup, coupled with prominent marketing of reusable cups, on customer behaviour. 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.
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