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United Kingdom needs 'latte levy' on disposable coffee cups to cut waste - lawmakers


A report by the Environmental Audit Committee says the tax should be used to improve the UK's recycling and reprocessing facilities.

A 25p latte levy should be introduced on disposable coffee cups to cut waste, MPs have said.

"The UK throws away 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups every year - that's enough to circle the planet five and a half times".

"Almost none are recycled and half a million a day are littered".

Earlier this week, Pret A Manger announced that it will start offering customer a 50p discount on the price of hot drinks if they bring their own cup.

Green Party lawmaker and EAC committee member Caroline Lucas told the Thomson Reuters Foundation that the reforms were "long overdue" and hoped that they would change behaviour.

'We need to kick-start a revolution in recycling.

"Now there's no way this horrendous and avoidable problem can be put back to sleep". A lack of so-called "binfrastructure" in consumer hubs like train stations and shopping centres means that coffee cups, generally used on-the-go, do not easily find their way into dedicated recycling bins.

A more focused target has thus been recommended: all single-use coffee cups placed in recycling bins to be recycled by 2023. "We're calling for action to reduce the number of single-use cups, promote reusable cups over disposable cups and to recycle all coffee cups by 2023".




The report sheds light on the UK's growing love affair with coffee, and the resultant impact on coffee cup use.

Unsurprisingly, the prospect of a complete ban on coffee cups was met with firm opposition by makers of paper cups, who have argued their products remained the most sustainable and environment friendly solution for takeaway drinks.

The last decade has brought about an explosion in the United Kingdom café culture, as the traditional English cup of tea has succumbed to its roasted rival, with the milky latte taking top spot as the nation's most popular takeaway hot drink, served in paper cups laminated with a plastic sheeting, which waterproof the containers and stop hot drinks leaking onto customer's hands.

"Just like the plastic bag charge we are all now familiar with, a charge added to our coffee at the point of purchase will help consumers think about whether to take a refillable cup to the cafe", Laura Foster, head of clean seas at the MCS, said in a statement.

"We will carefully consider the committee's recommendations and respond shortly", she said.

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. Coffey did state that the government's upcoming Waste and Resources Strategy would contain a "specific ambition" relating to the recycling of coffee cups, something the EAC noted had been "historically weak".

A 5p charge on coffee cups was first proposed by the Liberal Democrats after it emerged previous year that only one in 400 was being recycled.

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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