Industry responds to coffee cups report

Industry responds to coffee cups report

The government's environmental watchdog, the EAC (Environmental Audit Committee*) have today released a report recommending that a 25p charge is added to hot drinks served in disposable takeaway cups.

Environmental Audit Committee chair Mary Creagh said: "The UK throws away 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups every year; enough to circle the planet five and a half times. A proportion of the revenue could also be used to support a wide-reaching public communications campaign that would provide easily digestible information on best-practice recycling while on-the-go, therefore reducing litter and improving recycling of all types of food packaging waste".

Chef and environmental campaigner Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall said: "The committee has recognised that the huge mountain of disposable coffee cups is effectively unrecyclable, and is overwhelming and disrupting the nation's waste disposal systems, ultimately polluting our rivers and seas, and needs urgent action. 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".

PCCRG is a voluntary body focused on increasing the recovery and recycling of paper cups.

"If they were recycling it themselves, they'd bring reusable cups with them". The firm sells them for £1 and also offers a 25p discount for customers who bring their own.

Suez's Palmer-Jones agreed, commenting that a charge "should be used to fund the collection of cups, since once they are separately collected they have a value and can be made into new products".

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Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said the 5p plastic bag charge is proof that "these levies work".

Mr Palmer-Jones said: "For any so-called latte tax to be more than just a light and frothy foam nod to reform, we need to wake up and smell the real coffee needed for a lasting brew. We now have 1.8 percent of our customers using reusable cups", Starbucks said in a statement. "The government must do the same and introduce the levy as soon as possible".

The committee also suggested the Government place some of the financial costs of recycling on the packaging producers.

The Government has shown itself to be receptive to calls to tackle problem packaging, setting the tone with a charge for plastic bags, and promising further legislation to protect the environment and animal rights.

Once used, the paper part of the cup is usually contaminated by the cup's contents. The recycling process is complex, as it consists of separating a thin plastic layer from paper, and most recyclers don't have the ability to do this.

However, some customers have complained on social media that they have seen baristas measuring drinks in disposable cups and then tipping the drink into a reusable vessel - negating the whole point of the exercise.

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