Are you ready for a latte levy?

Sean Reid
January 8, 2018

You can use any brand of reusable cup in each store, but the cheapest and easiest way is to buy a £1 reusable plastic cup at Starbucks, marked with a line for its 350ml size (known as "tall" at Starbucks).

This is according to the so called "latte levy" report put forward by the Environmental Audit Committee, which is recommending that the Government makes a series of changes.

The UK generates 30,000 tonnes of coffee cup waste a year - enough to fill the Royal Albert Hall. However, only 0.25% of them are reprocessed.

Estelle Brachlianoff, Senior Executive Vice-President at Veolia UK & Ireland, highlighted the progress it had already made in pioneering coffee cup recycling, working in partnership with Costa, Starbucks and McDonald's.

Throwaway coffee cups should face a 25p "latte levy", MPs said last night.

A report on disposable coffee cups by the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee said 2.5 billion were used in the United Kingdom every year, with only 0.25% being recycled, and producing 30,000 tonnes of waste annually. Since litter encourages more littering, this creates a vicious cycle.


David Palmer-Jones, Chief Executive Officer of SUEZ recycling and recovery United Kingdom said: "Taxes on takeaway coffee cups may provide a helpful nudge to consumers to abandon a throw-away culture, but for lasting change, proposals like these need to be part of wider, joined-up reform that shifts the burden of responsibility for all forms of packaging content, recyclability and ultimately their collection, back to the producer".

"The UK's coffee shop market is expanding rapidly, so we need to kick-start a revolution in recycling".

However, MPs said that while the efforts were "well meaning", they were also "inconsistent and need targets" to be imposed by the government, highlighting the fact only two of the major coffee chains agreed to give evidence was troubling.

The full report into coffee cup waste can be read on the EAC's website. "Disposable coffee cups are an avoidable waste problem and if the United Kingdom can not be confident of their future sustainability, the Government should ban them".

The programme included a move this month to make all ACE UK bring banks accept paper cups for recycling, delivering an additional 415 recycling points located in 105 local authorities across the UK.

McDonald's has installed recycling units in around 80% of its United Kingdom stores, though this requires customers to separate the cups from other waste packaging themselves.


The Committee stated that this type of cups should be banned unless the recycling target is met.

The committee said coffee chains perpetuated customer confusion that cups are widely recyclable when they are not.

"We've seen with the plastic bag charge an 83 per cent reduction in plastic bag use", Ms Creagh said.

David Palmer-Jones, CEO of SUEZ recycling and recovery, remarked that while the tax may be helpful, it has to be part of a wider reform that "shifts the burden of responsibility for all forms of packaging content, recyclability and ultimately their collection, back to the producer".

The amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the production and shipment of 2.5 billion cups - the number discarded in the United Kingdom every year - is equivalent to that produced by burning around 120 million litres of petrol.


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