Latte Levy: What are businesses doing?

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British Members of Parliament are calling for a "latte levy" on disposable cups, in a bid to reduce the growing amount of paper packaging waste they contribute to.

Committee Chair, Mary Creagh MP, said: "The UK throws away 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups every year; enough to circle the planet five and a half times".

Chains Pret A Manger, Costa Coffee, Caffe Nero and Greggs alongside USA firm Starbucks are among the biggest coffee-sellers in Britain, rapidly expanding in the last 10 years to meet increasing demand.

CIWM would like to see renewed efforts by coffee retailers to promote reusable cups to their customers, adding that and a government-backed voluntary agreement might be a sensible first step. The recycling process is complex, as it consists of separating a thin plastic layer from paper, and most recyclers don't have the ability to do this. The takeaway cups have a plastic lining, which means nearly none are ever recycled.

Costa Coffee, which operates over 2,000 stores in the United Kingdom, said the government should consider "a mix of measures to address this issue with a focus on improving.... waste and recycling infrastructure".

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

They recommend he Government sets a target that all single use coffee cups should be recycled by 2023.

The Committee's report also recommends that all single-use coffee cups are recycled by 2023, and if this isn't in effect by then that there is an outright coffee cup ban.

Mike Childs, Head of Science at Friends of the Earth, suggested a deposit return scheme (DRS) might be more effective than a charge: "It would mean that there was an incentive to take a cup back to any coffee shop rather than chuck it in the bin, and it's companies that would rightly bear the burden". Spokesman Mike Turner said: 'The paper cups we manufacture in the United Kingdom are sustainably sourced, responsibly produced, recyclable and. are being recycled.

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

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Mr Palmer-Jones said: "For any so-called latte tax to be more than just a light and frothy foam nod to reform, we need to wake up and smell the real coffee needed for a lasting brew".

"Indications are that introducing a tax on coffee cups will significantly deter shoppers, with over one third saying it would negatively affect how often they visited their local high street", said Neil Whittall, chairman of the Paper Cup Recovery and Recycling Group.

"By singling out disposable cups the committee is, by its own admission, looking for United Kingdom coffee retailers and their cup providers to underwrite the waste management of all packaging used on the go", he said.

The paper cup industry warned a tax would hurt coffee chains, and said the government should instead focus on providing more recycling points.

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