Thursday, 20 September, 2018

'Warm words, no action': Government rejects 25p 'latte levy' proposal

MP portraits MPs urge ministers to impose a 25p 'latte levy' on takeaway coffee cups to stop them polluting Britain's beaches
Orlando Vargas | 10 March, 2018, 02:43

Disposable coffee cups are left on a table in a cafe in central London on 5 January 2018.

The Environmental Audit Committee, made up of politicians from the House of Commons, wants Prime Minister Theresa May's government to introduce a 25 pound pence (35 USA dollar cents) so-called latte levy on disposable cups.

But it added: "We are pleased that major coffee retail chains are taking action to reduce single-use coffee cups by offering discounts to customers with reusable cups and are putting in place the infrastructure to ensure cups can be collected for recycling".

MPs have criticised the Government's refusal to introduce a 25p levy on all disposable cups, with ministers accused of providing "warm words but no real action".

Committee chairwoman Mary Creagh said: "The UK's throwaway culture is having a devastating impact on our streets, beaches and seas".

"Our report recommended practical solutions to the disposable packaging crisis", Creagh said. "The government's response shows that despite warm words they plan no real action".

The environmental audit committee's key recommendation on reducing coffee cup waste was the introduction of a 25p levy to help fund recycling measures.

Addressing the EAC's view that charges were more effective than discounts, the government acknowledged that the 5p cost of plastic bags had resulted in fewer being sold.

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Friends of the Earth plastic-free campaigner Julian Kirby said in a statement: "Government commitment to tackling coffee cup waste appears to be all froth and little substance".

She also referred to evidence from the committee that showed people respond better to charges than discount, using the recent plastic bag charge as an example, saying, "By choosing to favour voluntary discounts, the government is ignoring the evidence about what works".

It also rejected the Committee's suggestion of banning disposable cups if they were not all recycled by 2023 as unrealistic, and instead called for clearer consumer messaging on where the products could be recycled. Littering should be deterred through well-designed labels, although they admit that anti-littering messages are so ubiquitous that they have become ineffective.

Do coffee shops offer ceramic cups by default rather than plastic cups?

"He needs to listen to MPs, retailers, and the majority of the public, who are asking him to act decisively on reducing throwaway plastic packaging".

Ms Creagh said the Government response "completely misses the point" and that it 'lacks ambition and puts coffee in the "too difficult" ministerial in-tray'.

"We are working with them to reform our packaging waste regulations so producers are incentivised to take greater responsibility for the environmental impact of their products", he said.

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