The Environment Audit Committee released its report, "Disposable packaging: Coffee Cups", earlier today which called on the government to both introduce a 25p tax and aim to recycle 100% of coffee cups by 2023 (see letsrecycle.com story). "Disposable coffee cups are an avoidable waste problem and if the United Kingdom can not be confident of their future sustainability, the government should ban them", said Creagh.
The report sheds light on the UK's growing love affair with coffee, and the resultant impact on coffee cup use.
The last decade has brought about an explosion in the United Kingdom café culture, as the traditional English cup of tea has succumbed to its roasted rival, with the milky latte taking top spot as the nation's most popular takeaway hot drink, served in paper cups laminated with a plastic sheeting, which waterproof the containers and stop hot drinks leaking onto customer's hands.
Coffee shops have been pulling the wool over customers' eyes, telling us their cups can be recycled, when less than one per cent are. Half a million coffee cups are littered each day in the United Kingdom, the report said. MPs say if cup recycling doesn't improve drastically by 2023, they'll be banned completely. "We're calling for action to reduce the number of single-use cups, promote reusable cups over disposable cups and to recycle all coffee cups by 2023". Costa is also collecting cups from rival brands in its shops.
Some coffee shops give customers discounts for bringing their own refillable cups.
In a statement Friday, the committee said that revenue from the levy should be invested in reprocessing facilities and recycling "binfrastructure".
This was welcomed by the committee, which heard evidence during the inquiry that consumer confusion around coffee cups is contributing to poor recycling rates.
Time to crack out your reusable cups? A spokesman said the money raised would be donated to a charity to run a study on how to change the public's behaviour and encourage the use of reusable cups.
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Starbucks said on Friday it would trial a 5p charge on takeaway coffee cups for three months in about 20 London cafes.
"It places an unfair and additional cost on coffee drinking consumers only - despite paper cups only contributing 0.7% of total paper packaging waste", he told BBC News.
Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said the 5p plastic bag charge is proof that "these levies work". "The government must do the same and introduce the levy as soon as possible".
Only one per cent of the cups sold by cafés "to-go" are recycled, most are sent for landfill or incineration.
Other measures recommended by the committee include producers paying more for packaging, and improved labelling so consumers know how best to dispose of their cup.
"Its estimate of the funds created by a 25p charge are entirely disproportionate and it would seem the committee has failed to appreciate the point of an on-the-go waste management strategy is to achieve higher collection, less littering and more recycling for all on-the-go packaging from cans to cups, so simplifying waste disposal on the go".
The government agrees plastic waste is a problem and will seek evidence on a tax on single-use plastics.