Starbucks trials 5p charge on disposable cups

Starbucks trials 5p charge on disposable cups

Starbucks trials 5p charge on disposable cups

A 25p "latte levy" should be placed on disposable coffee cups and all must be recycled by 2023 or face being banned altogether, say MPs.

Disposable cups can not be recycled by the normal systems because they are made from cardboard with a tightly bonded polyethylene liner, which is hard to remove, and means they are not accepted by paper mills. As a result just six million - 0.25% - are recycled.

'Coffee cup producers and distributors have not taken action to rectify this and government has sat on its hands. Britain's biggest coffee chain, Costa, gives a 25p discount. As the report notes, coffee cups are becoming an iconic symbol of wasteful behaviour in the same way that plastic carrier bags did, but the issues here are significantly more complex.

They want United Kingdom ministers to impose a 25p "latte levy" per cup, on top of the coffee price, to fund better recycling and reprocessing systems.

Mr Palmer-Jones said: "For any so-called latte tax to be more than just a light and frothy foam nod to reform, we need to wake up and smell the real coffee needed for a lasting brew". These were "well meaning", MPs said, but not enough to tackle the scale of cup waste in the UK.

But Mike Turner, of the Paper Cup Alliance, said they were the most sustainable and safe solution for drinks on-the-go.

However, due to their plastic lining, customers who put them in the recyclable waste effectively contaminate it.

Although some coffee shops provide discounts for customers who bring their own cup, uptake of these offers is low at only 1-2% of coffee purchases.

Other measures recommended by the committee include producers paying more for packaging, and improved labelling so consumers know how best to dispose of their cup.

The government plans to produce a new plastics policy later in the year.

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.

Coffee chains have been "pulling the wool over the eyes" of customers by letting them believe paper cups can be recycled, MPs warned. This is strong stuff, but in the meantime - with 2.5 billion coffee cups being dished out yearly - we need to make sure this happens sooner rather than later. Fewer than 1 in 400 cups is recycled, largely because their plastic linings make recycling trickier. If a charge helped to pay for infrastructure around this, he added, it could increase the volume of cups recycled. According to the report, "almost half of all coffees and hot drinks" are sold in disposable cups.

In response, Starbucks said it would try out a 5p cup charge in 20 to 25 central London outlets.

Time to crack out your reusable cups?

The money to be raised by the "latte levy" should be used to improve the country's recycling infrastructure and reprocessing facilities, advises the committee.

Now the Environmental Audit Committee's plan to bring in a tax on disposable coffee cups is in the proposal stage.

Even when consumers place coffee cups in recycling bins, there's now no way for recycling plants to recycle them.

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