Charge for coffee cups will help tackle packaging waste, say MPs

  • Charge for coffee cups will help tackle packaging waste, say MPs

Charge for coffee cups will help tackle packaging waste, say MPs

Richard Burnett, from James Cropper, one of only three companies that recycles coffee cups, supported the 25p charge if the money is used to support the infrastructure to recycle them.

Thanks to the UK's ever-growing coffee shop culture, and the general trend for using disposable cups given at the counter rather than reusable ones brought in from home, the country is throwing away a huge 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups each year, according to a study by Cardiff University. Half a million cups are thrown away every day, with nearly all of them incinerated, exported or landfilled.

EAC chair Mary Creagh MP said: "Coffee cup producers and distributors have not taken action to rectify this and Government has sat on its hands".

Only three companies in the United Kingdom recycle coffee cups.

The Committee also called on Government to ensure all coffee cups are recycled by 2023.

In addition, the committee also has suggested that the government should set up a producer responsibility compliance fee structure that rewards packaging design which facilitates recycling and puts a fine on packaging, which is hard to recycle.

However, the difficulties surrounding the recycling of coffee cups are manifold: not only are recycling capabilities limited but the majority of cups go straight into the general waste.

The tax would fund plants capable of recycling the cups, persuade people to carry reusable cups and encourage the use of traditional ceramic mugs in workplaces, the report said.

Some coffee shops give customers discounts for bringing their own refillable cups. "We are committed to increasing recycling rates", said Mike Turner, of the Paper Cup Alliance.

"There is no excuse for the ongoing reluctance from government and industry to address coffee cup waste".

Less than 1 per cent of coffee cups are recycled in Britain because of the tightly bonded plastic liner, the difficulties of recycling packaging which has been in contact with food and drink and a lack of facilities, the lawmakers said.

Gavin Ellis of environmental charity Hubbub said: 'Most consumers would look at that [symbol] and think if they put that in their mixed recycling bin that it will get recycled.

Disposable coffee cups are technically recyclable, but most are not because the United Kingdom has just three facilities that can split the paper and plastic components for recycling.

Even when consumers place coffee cups in recycling bins, there's now no way for recycling plants to recycle them. Cafes with in-store recycling systems should print their cups with "recyclable in store only", the MPs add.

Dr Laura Foster, head of clean seas at the Marine Conservation Society welcomed the recommendations.