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MPs call for 'latte levy' on disposable coffee cups
05 January 2018, 12:15 | Tara Lloyd
MPs call for 'latte levy' on disposable coffee cups
A Westminster committee is calling on the government to introduce a 25p tax on disposable coffee cups - and for all coffee cups to be recycled by 2023.
Huhtamaki, the Finnish foodservice company responsible for the largest share of takeaway cups made in the United Kingdom, started a project late in 2017 to improve recycling availability for the cups alongside the largest food and drinks outlet firms.
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 EAC's recommendation that the government take legislative action on this matter flies in the face of Coffey's remarks, with the reportlabelling voluntary commitments by retailers as "inconsistent" and lacking "quantifiable targets and structure", while also noting that uptake for such schemes can be as low as one per cent. The charge on disposable cups would be paid by consumers on top of the price of their coffee, and would be lowered as the recycling rate improves, it said.
The government has agreed that plastic waste is a problem, and has promised to look into a tax on single-use plastics, and plans to reveal a new policy later this year. As a result just six million - 0.25% - are recycled.
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The cups are technically capable of being recycled, however there are very few recycling centres in the United Kingdom with the specialised equipment to do so.
Mary Creagh, chairwoman of the parliamentary group, said it was time for a "revolution" in recycling.
It also pointed out that now cup producers only contribute around 10 per cent of the cost of disposing of the coffee cups "leaving the taxpayer to foot the rest".
"Coffee shops have been pulling the wool over customers' eyes, telling us their cups can be recycled, when less than 1 percent are", Ms. Creagh said regarding the confusion that coffee chains have created about coffee cups being eligible for recycling.
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. MCS's Beachwatch litter-surveying campaign has seen a reported 93 per cent increase in coffee cups found on United Kingdom beaches over the past five years.
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"I am an expert in making fantastic coffee, but they (the cup manufacturers) are the ones with the knowledge and resources to be able to change". A lack of so-called "binfrastructure" in consumer hubs like train stations and shopping centres means that coffee cups, generally used on-the-go, do not easily find their way into dedicated recycling bins.
Disposable coffee cups are technically recyclable, but most are not because the United Kingdom has just three facilities that can split the paper and plastic components for recycling.
The last decade has brought about an explosion in the United Kingdom café culture, as the traditional English cup of tea has succumbed to its roasted rival, with the milky latte taking top spot as the nation's most popular takeaway hot drink, served in paper cups laminated with a plastic sheeting, which waterproof the containers and stop hot drinks leaking onto customer's hands.
They said the disposable cups that majority used actually had a "shockingly low recycling rate" - less than 1 per cent.
"The UK throws away 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups every year - that's enough to circle the planet five and a half times". Spokesman Mike Turner said: 'The paper cups we manufacture in the United Kingdom are sustainably sourced, responsibly produced, recyclable and. are being recycled.
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