The government is being urged to introduce a 25p ‘latte levy’ on disposable coffee cups.
The Environmental Audit Committee – which looks at how government policy impacts the environment and contributes to sustainability – has said a 25p charge should be made on disposable cups, to be paid for on top of the price of a coffee.
Revenue from the levy would be used to invest in reprocessing facilities and infrastructure to boost recycling of disposable cups and other food and drink packaging, suggested the committee.
Members have also called for all disposable coffee cups to be recycled by 2023, and that such cups should be banned if the target is not met.
"The UK throws away 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups every year. Almost none are recycled and half a million a day are littered,” said Environmental Audit Committee chair Mary Creagh. “Coffee cup producers and distributors have not taken action to rectify this and government has sat on its hands.
"The UK’s coffee shop market is expanding rapidly, so we need to kick-start a revolution in recycling. 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.”
Although some coffee shops give discounts for customers who bring their own cup, uptake is low and accounts for just 1-2% of coffee purchases, pointed out the committee, adding that the plastic bag charge had reduced plastic bag usage by more than 83% in the first year.
“A reusable cup is one of the easiest ways to reduce cup waste, but the discounts offered by coffee companies are ineffective. The plastic bag charge is proof that charges are highly effective at reducing packaging waste,” added Creagh.