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Brits Call for 'Latte Levy' to Reduce Cup Waste

08 January 2018

"We are encouraged by industry action to increase the recycling of paper cups with some major retail chains now offering discounts to customers with reusable cups", said a spokeswoman.

The 25 pence charge would go towards improving Britain's recycling and reprocessing facilities, the report said.

"Prevention remains the best environmental option and as a minimum, CIWM would like to see renewed efforts by coffee retailers to promote reusable cups to their customers and a government-backed voluntary agreement might be a sensible first step".

Approximately 1.5 billion disposable cups are thrown away each year in the United Kingdom, enough to circle the Earth five and a half times, but only 0.25 percent of these are recycled.

"Almost none are recycled and half a million a day are littered", said committee chairwoman Mary Creagh, MP.

Chef and environmental campaigner Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall said: "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".

In October previous year, organisations from across the paper cup supply chain signed an agreement with the Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment (ACE UK) to accelerate UK recycling of PE lined paper cups (see letsrecycle.com story).

Pearlfisher head of realisation Jen Nathan says, "Designers and design agencies should be playing a significant role in helping to advise their clients on the most sustainable materials and production practices and connecting them with innovative partners and suppliers who are helping to find solutions to challenges like that of takeaway coffee cups". In a recently published report, a House of Commons committee said the Government had "sat on its hands" as disposable coffee cup waste has grown to an estimated 25,000 tons per year.

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Chains Pret A Manger, Costa Coffee, Caffe Nero and Greggs alongside United States firm Starbucks are among the biggest coffee-sellers in Britain and have rapidly expanded in the last 10 years to meet increasing demand, Reuters reported.

The news follows hot on the heels of Pret A Manger's announcement that it will give reusable cup holders 50p off hot drinks from this month.

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.

They hope a "latte levy" would force consumers to use recyclable cups and reduce waste.

"Indications are that introducing a tax on coffee cups will significantly deter shoppers, with over one third saying it would negatively affect how often they visited their local high street", said Neil Whittall, chairman of the Paper Cup Recovery and Recycling Group. That's just one out of every 400 cups.

"With all the will in the world we can't make that change and we wish we could". "The government must do the same and introduce the levy as soon as possible". Is it about raising more money - from producers or consumers or both - to develop new, separate collection, sorting and treatment infrastructure for coffee cups and (surely) other forms of disposable food and beverage packaging? A 25p charge, which works out at over £20,000 per tonne, would most likely be considered as legally accounting for the producer responsibility obligation for disposable cups so effectively shifting the charge from the producer to the consumer.

Nathan says that Pearlfisher now works with James Cropper, a paper supplier that is able to separate the polythene lining of paper cups from the paper.

Brits Call for 'Latte Levy' to Reduce Cup Waste