Charge on coffee cups to boost recycling proposed by United Kingdom lawmakers

05 January, 2018, 12:58 | Author: Brian Mcdaniel
  • Starbucks will trial charging customers 5p extra for disposable cups

Coffee shops should be made to charge 25 pence for the use of disposable cups say MPs in Parliament's Environmental Audit Committee (EAC). "We agree with the committee that if complete recycling of coffee cups isn't reached by 2023, then there should be an outright ban on providing them - and that date should be set in stone".

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.

Thanks to the UK's ever-growing coffee shop culture, and the general trend for using disposable cups given at the counter rather than reusable ones brought in from home, the country is throwing away a huge 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups each year, according to a study by Cardiff University. Half a million coffee cups are littered each day in the United Kingdom, the report said.

It added: "We recommend that the Government sets a target that all single use coffee cups disposed of in recycling bins should be recycled by 2023".

Coffee shops have been pulling the wool over customers' eyes, telling us their cups can be recycled, when less than one per cent are. The multi-layer material prevents the cup being recycled in exclusively paper or plastics recycling streams.

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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.

In October a year ago, organisations from across the paper cup supply chain signed an agreement with the Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment (ACE UK) to accelerate UK recycling of PE lined paper cups (see letsrecycle.com story). Café chain Pret A Manger recently announced it will reduce 50p from the price of a hot drink when the customer buying it is using their own reusable coffee cup. Any stores that have in-house recycling options should also label their cups to reflect that. Coffey did state that the government's upcoming Waste and Resources Strategy would contain a "specific ambition" relating to the recycling of coffee cups, something the EAC noted had been "historically weak".

In a statement Friday, the committee said that revenue from the levy should be invested in reprocessing facilities and recycling "binfrastructure".

"The paper cups we manufacture in the United Kingdom are sustainably sourced, responsibly produced, recyclable and, through a number of facilities, are being recycled".

He said he had tried, but failed, to source easily recyclable cups. It's also been suggested that the cups be phased out, with a full ban by 2023. "Only by treating this issue as one that is the responsibility of both industry and consumers will reuse become the norm in place of single-use and throw away". The plastic lining in cups makes them very expensive to recycle, and the businesses who are responsible for handing them to customers pay just 10% of the bill for dealing with the waste packaging!

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