MPs call for 25p 'latte levy' on disposable coffee cups

Disposable coffee cups should be sold with a 25p "latte levy" to reduce waste and boost recycling rates, according to a new report.

"The UK throws away 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups every year - that's enough to circle the planet five and a half times", said committee's chair, Mary Creagh MP.

The committee's report added that the government should adopt a "producer responsibility compliance fee structure" that rewards design for recyclability and raises charges on packaging that is hard to recycle.

According to EAC, 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups are thrown away annually in the United Kingdom, with nearly none being recycled and half a million per day being littered.

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

Government sources said ministers were "open" to the idea of a coffee cup charge if evidence shows it would change behaviour.

"Creagh said: "Coffee shops have been pulling the wool over customers" eyes, telling us their cups can be recycled, when less than one per cent are".

By 2023 all coffee cups should be recycled, and if they aren't - they should be banned. The plastic lining in cups makes them very expensive to recycle, and the businesses who are responsible for handing them to customers pay just 10% of the bill for dealing with the waste packaging!

But just four recycling companies in the United Kingdom can separate the plastic film lining the inside of the paper cup.

The Daily Mail has led calls to "curb the cups" and crack down on plastic, campaigning to protect the environment with measures such as a deposit scheme for plastic bottles and the 5p levy on disposable plastic carrier bags.

Starbucks and Costa have already introduced on-site recycling bins for cups, which are then directed to one of three specialist recycling facilities, and offer a 25p discount to customers using their own cup.

Although disposable coffee cups are recyclable, EAC say that most are not recycled, due to the cups' bonded plastic liner and the difficulties of recycling packaging that has been contaminated by food or drink. Cafes with in-store recycling systems should print their cups with "recyclable in store only", the MPs add. 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".

The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) said it welcomed Friday's recommendations from the Environmental Audit Committee.

Last night chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall - whose BBC show Hugh's War on Waste first drew attention to the paper cup problem - said the report showed "the United Kingdom has finally woken up and smelled the coffee cup nightmare".

  • Rogelio Becker