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The Independent Voice of the Commodity Industry


The government in the UK has refused to take decisive action on the complex issue of coffee cup waste – including the introduction of a ‘latte levy’ – and has instead chosen to rely on voluntary commitments.

Environmental Audit Committee Chair Mary Creagh MP 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. The government’s response shows that despite warm words they plan no real action.”

The committee’s key recommendation was the introduction of a 25p levy on the use of disposable coffee cups, to reduce their use and help to fund recycling measures.

The government response suggests that coffee shops should offer discounts for customers with reusable cups, instead of a levy on disposable cups.

In its inquiry, the committee heard that a charge – such as that introduced on plastic bags – was the most effective way to change consumer behaviour.

During the inquiry the Environment Minister Dr Therese Coffey MP told the Committee that Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs’ (DEFRA’s) Voluntary and Economic Incentives working group would examine coffee cups for their next project, but the government response to the report made no mention of this.

Mary Creagh said: “Evidence to our inquiry demonstrated that charges work better than discounts for reducing the use of non-recyclable materials – as was the case with the plastic bag charge. By choosing to favour voluntary discounts for reusable cups, the government is ignoring the evidence about what works.

“DEFRA’s Voluntary and Economic Incentives working group should open their consultation on coffee cups as soon as possible. The government should look to repeat the success of the 5p bag charge by introducing a latte levy.”

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