Charge for coffee cups will help tackle packaging waste, say MPs

Starbucks to test coffee cup charge as industry responds to EAC report

A new report by the Environmental Audit Committee suggests a levy of 25p a cup, with the money being used to improve recycling and reprocessing facilities here in the UK. With that in mind, the committee has also asked that the government force coffee shops to label cups to inform consumers that they're not widely recycled.

In Gosport, coffee cup firm Huhtamaki - which manufactures coffee cups for Starbucks - is aiming to introduce disposal points for coffee cups in the town, working alongside Gosport Borough Council.

"The UK throws away 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups every year; enough to circle the planet five and a half times", said Chair of the committee, Mary Creagh.

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

If this target is not met, the Audit Committee called on the government to completely ban disposable coffee cups.

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

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.

United Kingdom politicians want the government to introduce a 25p (33 cents) "latte levy" on disposable coffee cups in an effort to eliminate waste.

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.

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It's not just MPs making plans to tackle the issue of coffee cup waste.

"We recognise there is growing concern about the number of single-use paper cups being used and that our customers are interested in ways we can help them reduce, reuse and recycle", said a Starbucks spokeswoman.

"There is no excuse for the ongoing reluctance from government and industry to address coffee cup waste".

If all disposable coffee cups are recycled by 2023, that will require a lot of infrastructure - there are only three recycling facilities in the United Kingdom that can split the paper from the plastic for recycling at present (which is why less than 1% of cups are recycled). It was the EAC's recommendations of banning microbeads that bolstered government into doing so (the full ban comes into effect this coming July).

Mr Stemman said the industry should continue to focus on other environmental issues such as cutting water use, carbon reduction, and turning waste coffee grounds into biofuel.

"We will investigate the impact of a 5p charge on a paper cup, coupled with prominent marketing of reusable cups, on customer behaviour", it said in a statement posted on its website.

Most paper recycling facilities reject cups because it is hard to separate the plastic inner lining from the paper, meaning only 1% of those thrown away each year are recycled.

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.

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