Costa Coffee lobbied government against 25p ‘latte levy’ before proposals were binned

16th September 2019 | Recycling

Britain’s largest coffee chain claimed there was no evidence a 25p environmental “latte levy” on single-use cups would work and “obstructively lobbied” the government just before proposals to introduce the tax were binned against MP’s advice. Costa Coffee – which sells nearly half a billion drinks in takeaway cups every year – argued against the proposals to make customers pay more for them, just before the chancellor Philip Hammond dropped plans for the levy in last year’s autumn budget, according to a freedom of information request by Greenpeace’s investigative journalism unit Unearthed.

MPS on the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) had recommended the levy should be brought in, and trials – including one in Westminster itself – have shown they drastically cut the number of cups thrown away. The Independent launched a campaign called Cut the Cup Waste to back the move in 2017.

Latte Levy

However, just before Mr Hammond’s budget, Costa claimed the government would b “deliberately targeting coffee drinkers” and questioned whether cups made from plastic and paper could be deemed single-use plastic, according to documents seen by The Independent.

Although plans for a nationwide scheme were scrapped, a 25p surcharge on takeaway cups in the Houses of Parliament introduced in October 2018 led to the number of cups plummeting from 58,000 a month to 15,000 per month.

Greenpeace UK ocean plastics campaigner Fiona Nicholls said it was “galling” the Treasury scrapped plans for a levy on throwaway cups after “obstructive lobbying” from Costa. “We know the ‘latte levy’ works because when it was introduced in Westminster it led to 74 per cent fewer throwaway cups being used. The government must act on this evidence and introduce a charge without delay,” she said.

A trial latte levy scheme carried out earlier this year by the universities of Sussex and Winchester showed the UK nationally could save in excess of 700 million cups every year.

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