There are more than four times as many coffee shops today as there were in the year 2000, and 1 in 5 of us visit a coffee shop every day.

Now a Parliamentary committee wants to introduce a so called 25p latte levy on disposable coffee cups to cut waste,in the same way the plastic bag levy has done in supermarkets.

Disposable coffee cups are made from paper and lined with plastic, which makes them waterproof. This plastic lining cannot be removed by most recycling facilities. Once used, the paper part of the cup is usually contaminated by the cup’s contents.

There is no UK or European market for contaminated paper food packaging, says the Environmental Audit Committee . 2.5 billion coffee cups are used and thrown away each year in the UK – enough to stretch around the world roughly five and a half times – but less than 1 in 400 – just 0.25% – are recycled. Around 500,000 cups are littered every day–an unsightly and damaging blight on our environment. Since litter encourages more littering, this creates a vicious cycle.

Most people mistakenly think that that disposable cups are widely recycled, and dispose of them in on-street recycling bins. This consumer confusion shows that retailers have failed to be clear with consumers about coffee cups. There is also a lack of infrastructure to recycle them says the committee and disposing of coffee cups in on-street bins creates a costly waste contamination problem for local authorities. This adds to the financial burden on taxpayers, who already cover 90% of the cost of collecting, sorting and disposing of waste coffee cups.

They recommend he Government sets a target that all single use coffee cups should be recycled by 2023. If this target is not achieved, the Government should ban disposable coffee cups.

“If more people used reusable coffee cups there would be less waste, which would reduce the burden on local authorities. This would cut costs for coffee retailers, who would need to purchase and dispose of fewer cups. We heard that large coffee retailers offer a 25p discount if customers bring their own cups, but awareness and uptake is very low (around 1%). We heard evidence that consumers are more responsive to a charge than a discount and that a charge on disposable cups could reduce use by up to 30%. We therefore recommend that the Government introduces a minimum 25p levy on disposable cups. The revenue should be used to invest in reprocessing facilities and “binfrastructure” to ensure that the remaining disposable cups are recycled.”

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