We had thought it was untaxable; a Coffee culture that swept the UK, replacing Pubs and, becoming our new, and favourite, social venue. Now, with a growing 2.5 billion empty plastic-coated coffee cups, getting into rubbish tips, it prompts a recommendation that the government step on them.
5th Jan, 2018 – MPs on the Environmental Audit Committee have recommended the Government to introduce the “latte levy” of 25p per disposable coffee cup purchased, to cover improvements to the UK’s reprocessing facilities and “binfastructure” according to Mary Creagh, chair of the Environmental Audit Committee.
The proviso is that if the number of single-use (non-recyclable) cups doesn’t decrease sufficiently, then there could be a ban on non-recyclable coffee cups by 2023.
In his November budget, the Chancellor Philip Hammond supported charges on single-use plastics (which includes non-recyclable coffee cups) and from 2017 at Cardiff University, researchers concluded that charging 25p for every coffee cup would help cut the number used by up to 300million a year.
The boss of Suez Recycling however, calls for a wider, joined up reform, to shift the responsibility back to the Coffee-cup producers, saying the Latte Levy won’t be enough. David Palmer-Jones says that disposable coffee cups only represent a small fraction of the national annual tonnage of card and plastics waste.
Days before the report, on 2nd Jan, Pret A Manger announced that they would start offering a 50p discount on hot drinks if customers bring their own cup (it has been 25p). The same day, Starbucks said it would start a three-month trial of a 5p paper cup charge in up to 25 London shops, starting from February. (Incidentally, only in November 2016, Starbucks withdraw their discount for customers bringing their own cup.)
It turns out that there is only 2 or 3 recycling plants in the UK that have the equipment to recycle coffee cups (the other 5 can’t) and that recycling coffee cups is complicated by the double-wall and mix of plastic and cardboard. In practice, although they carry logos that show they can be recycled, the vast majority of coffee cups do not end up being recycled.
7th Jan, 2018 Can we ask, what’s the rest of Europe doing?
14th Jan, 2018 Enter Frugalcup – the coffee cup that can be easily recycled anywhere and promises to hit Starbucks stores very soon.
Some people are expecting it to go like the 5p carrier bag charge, with customers being penalised for not remembering to bring their own cup with them. Other ideas include Coffee companies charging more for single-use takeaway cups (who would have thought of it?!) to cover increased recycling taxes. So far it’s just a recommendation, so you can lobby your local MP, perhaps take he/she out for a coffee…