March 23, 2018

Should coffee customers be charged 25p for disposable cups?

05 January 2018, 12:58 | Simon Arnold

Represents image

Represents image

You may not know it, but taxpayers (you and me) pay for 90% of the cost incurred disposing of coffee cups.

Committee chair Mary Creagh said: "The UK throws away 2.5bn disposable coffee cups every year; enough to circle the planet five and a half times".

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

Make companies pay for producing mixed material packaging which is hard to recycle (coffee cups are a paper shell with a plastic lining bonded to the paper).

The UK uses 30,000 tons of coffee cup waste each year.

The MPs point out that while some coffee shops offer discounts for customers who bring their own cup, only 1 to 2% of coffee drinkers respond.

Chains Pret A Manger, Costa Coffee, Caffe Nero and Greggs alongside USA firm Starbucks are among the biggest coffee-sellers in Britain and have rapidly expanded in the last 10 years to meet increasing demand.

ACE also stated that it is working with local authorities and waste management organisations to include disposable cups in kerbside collections. Cafes with in-store recycling systems should print their cups with "recyclable in store only", the MPs add.

The US firm said it would trial a 5p charge on its cups at up to 25 of its London coffee shops in wake of the MPs' report. The charge on disposable cups would be paid by consumers on top of the price of their coffee, and would be lowered as the recycling rate improves, it said.

The consultancy, which is a charity, will use the funds to run a behaviour change study, helping Starbucks to understand how the public can be encouraged to choose reusable drink containers.

"At the same time, we will redouble our efforts to ensure that drink-in customers are always offered a ceramic cup, thus cutting paper use even further", added Starbucks.

"The trial will investigate the impact of a 5p charge on a paper cup, coupled with the prominent marketing of reusable cups, on customer behaviour".

With coffee shops now a fixture in British society, the committee said that consumers are more responsive to extra charges than to discounts for bringing in their own reusable cups.

"The evidence is clear that these levies work - the 5p charge on plastic bags has massively reduced usage and helped protect our environment". "The government must do the same and introduce the levy as soon as possible". "No packaging type is totally recycled and a ban on paper cups would hit manufacturing jobs and damage a growing service industry which makes a major contribution to UK Plc", said Mike Turner, Speaking on behalf of the Alliance.

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.

The government agrees plastic waste is a problem and will seek evidence on a tax on single-use plastics.

The Grocer has contacted Pret and Costa for comment.

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