MPs call for 25p “latte levy” to combat UK disposable cup waste
5th January 2018 | Recycling
MPs have called for a 25p “latte levy” to be added to the prices of a takeaway coffee to cut back on the billions of disposable cups thrown away each year in the UK. The environmental audit committee said in a report, that the government should also set a target to ensure all paper coffee cups are recycled by 2023.
MPs said that, if the target was not met, ministers should enforce a ban on disposable cups, “almost none” of which are currently recycled. Just 0.25% of disposable coffee cups – or fewer than one in 400 – are recycled because only three UK waste plants can process them. The remainder end up in landfills, are burnt or are exported as waste.
Philip Hammond, the chancellor, said in November’s Budget that he wanted the UK to “become a world leader in tackling the scourge of plastic, littering our planet and our oceans.” He promised to launch a review this year on how taxed could reduce single-use plastics. At the time, official said the amount of such items thrown away annually – bubble wrap, takeaway boxes and coffee cups – would fill the Albert Hall a thousand times over.
Disposable cups are difficult to recycle because tightly bonded plastic linings are need to make them watertight, while their paper elements are usually contaminated by the coffee or tea. The committee accused coffee chains of “pulling the wool over customers’ eyes” by claiming cups are “recyclable” when very few are.
It also found many people do not bin paper cups, saying around 500,000 end up as street litter every day. “Coffee cup producers and distributors have not taken action to rectify this and government has sat on its hands,” said Mary Creagh, the Labour chair of the committee. “The UK’s coffee shop market is expanding rapidly, so we need to kick-start a revolution in recycling.”
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