United Kingdom lawmakers back tax on disposable coffee cups

United Kingdom lawmakers back tax on disposable coffee cups

COFFEE lovers should be charged 25p for disposable cups, with revenue used to pay for improved recycling, MPs have urged.

Mary Creagh, chairwoman of the parliamentary group, said it was time for a "revolution" in recycling.

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.

Several leading coffee shop chains in Britain, including the largest, Costa, offer discounts for customers who use their own re-usable cups.

MPs on the Environment Audit Committee say the charge would encourage consumers to bring their own reusable cups.

In the trial, "we will be exploring the impact that a cup charge may have in changing behaviour in addition to the measures we, and the whole industry, are taking on cup recycling", Starbucks said.

"Now there's no way this horrendous and avoidable problem can be put back to sleep". "Those without in-store recycling should print their cups with a not widely recyclable label". Coffee cup producers and distributors have not taken action to rectify this and government has sat on its hands. "Disposable coffee cups are an avoidable waste problem and if the United Kingdom can not be confident of their future sustainability, the Government should ban them".

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said the 5p plastic bag charge is proof that "these levies work".

He added that paper cups are the "most sustainable and safe solution" for drinks on the go.

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While a charge could encourage the uptake of reusable cups, leading to a reduction in the amount of waste produced, the report also acknowledges the need for improved recycling capabilities to deal with the remaining disposable cups; only three reprocessors nationwide are now able to recycle disposable cups due to their mixed paper and plastic composition.

The programme included a move this month to make all ACE UK bring banks accept paper cups for recycling, delivering an additional 415 recycling points located in 105 local authorities across the UK. "We are committed to increasing recycling rates", said Mike Turner, of the Paper Cup Alliance.

However, MPs criticised coffee chains for confusing customers by perpetuating the notion coffee cups are recyclable.

From this, the Committee found that consumers are more likely to respond to a charge than a discount, as shown by the plastic bag charge, which reduced plastic bag use by over 83%.

A spokesperson for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said the committee's recommendations would be carefully considered.

"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".

"It places an unfair and additional cost on coffee drinking consumers only - despite paper cups only contributing 0.7% of total paper packaging waste", he told BBC News.

He said that for the so-called "latte levy" to be more than just "a light and frothy foam nod to reform" the United Kingdom needs to invest more in sustainable product design, use more recyclable materials and be better at "capturing" materials at the end of their life.

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