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The UK's coffee addiction is creating an estimated 25,000 tons of waste, with 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups thrown away each year.
MPs are urging the government to charge the public 25p for using disposable coffee cups in an attempt to tackle the UK's mountain of unrecycled waste.
Based on the success of the 5p single-use plastic bag levy, the 25p 'latte levy' would be added on top of the price of a regular coffee. The money would be put towards improving recycling facilities, and it's hoped that all coffee cups will be recyclable by 2023.
Some cafes, such as Pret a Manger, already give customers a discount on hot drinks if they use reusable cups, however the Environmental Audit Committee found the uptake of these offers was as low as 1%.
The committee is also putting pressure on the government to charge the manufacturers of the cups that are difficult to recycle - many 'paper' cups actually include a plastic lining, making them both expensive and challenging to recycle. Currently, less than 1% of disposable coffee cups can be recycled, because there are only three facilities in the UK able to split the paper from the plastic materials.
Chairwoman of the Environmental Audit Committee, Mary Creagh, said:
‘‘The UK throws away 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups every year, enough to circle the planet five-and-a-half times. Almost none are recycled and half a million a day are littered. Coffee cup producers and distributors have not taken action to rectify this, and Government has sat on its hands. The UK’s coffee shop market is expanding rapidly, so we need to kick-start a revolution in recycling. We’re calling for action to reduce the number of single-use cups, promoting reusable cups over disposable cups and to recycle all coffee cups by 2023.’’
‘‘Coffee shops have been pulling the wool over customers’ eyes, telling us their cups can be recycled when less than 1% are. Taxpayers are footing the bill for disposing of the billions of coffee cups thrown away each year, whether or not they are coffee drinkers. It is only right that producers should bear more of the financial burden to help recycle their packaging, so my committee is calling for producer responsibility reform that rewards businesses that use sustainable packaging and makes those that don’t face higher charges.’’