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BRUSSELS OFFICE : +32 (0)2 895 5909

UK MPs propose coffee cup tax

05/01/18Government

MPs in the UK have proposed a new tax on disposable coffee cups to improve recycling and reduce waste.

A report by the Environmental Audit Committee has proposed a levy of £0.25 (~€0.28) per cup to encourage customers to use reusable drinkware, and to support recycling efforts. The plastic lining used in most disposable cups makes them expensive to recycle, and so the additional funds would be directed towards improving recycling facilities under the proposed plan. If the level of recycling of cups does not increase dramatically, the report also recommends that the cups be banned outright by 2023.

Some coffee chains currently offer a discount for customers who bring their own reusable drinkware, but according to the report only 1-2% of customers take advantage of this offer. Environmental Audit Committee chair Mary Creagh MP told the BBC: “The UK throws away 2.5bn disposable coffee cups every year – that’s enough to circle the planet five and a half times … 500,000 per day are littered.”

In light of the fact that the UK’s coffee shop market is rapidly expanding, Creagh said that a “revolution in recycling” would be needed to combat the growing problem. However, the tax has been opposed by paper cup manufacturers, and the Paper Cup Alliance has argued that the UK’s paper cups are already sustainably sourced and recycled at a number of facilities around the countries. It suggested that the tax will hurt consumers while not necessarily addressing the core of the problem.

The UK government will now seek evidence on the impact a tax on single-use plastics would have on consumers and recycling efforts.

Pan European Networks Ltd