Call for 'Latte Levy" of 25p to cut disposable coffee cup waste

Published on by Alice Black (author)

British MPs have called for drastic action to tackle the UK’s mountain of unrecycled coffee cups by proposing the “latte levy” which could see a 25p charge to consumers who buy a coffee on the go.

In the UK 2.5bn takeaway coffee cups are used and thrown away each year – enough to stretch around the world five-and-a-half-times. The UK produces 30,000 tonnes of coffee cup waste each year, according to a report published by MPs on the environmental audit committee last Friday.

The plan is being considered by ministers amid calls for a complete ban on all disposable cups by 2023 unless manufacturers can make them recyclable.

It follows research which shows the UK throws away 2.5 billion paper cups every year, with many consumers believing they are being recycled when less than 1 per cent actually are.

The rest are incinerated or buried in landfill sites because they have an inner-lining made of plastic which paper mills struggle to remove.

The Environmental Audit Committee is calling the Government to introduce a minimum 25p charge after seeing the plastic bag levy introduced last year had such a massive impact in cutting down waste.

The money raised should be spent on improving "binfrastructure", MPs said, including better recycling points around the country, including in workplaces.

But the committee said uptake of these offers was low at only 1 per cent to 2 per cent of coffee purchases, and consumers were more responsive to a charge than a discount based on the success of the 5p single-use plastic bag levy.

A Defra spokesperson said: “As this report recognises, we are already taking action towards our goal of a ‘zero waste economy’ and working closely with industry and organisations such as WRAP, we have made great progress in boosting recycling rates and making more products recyclable.

Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, appeared to be setting the example today when he carried a reusable coffee cup on his way to Downing Street. 

Gove has also pledged more action to reduce plastic and other waste, including plastic bottles, while the Treasury has announced plans to look at taxes or charges on single-use plastics such as packaging and polystyrene takeaway boxes.

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