UK government calls for charge on disposable coffee cups

MPs on the Environmental Audit Committee have recommended that the Government  introduce a 25p levy on disposable coffee cups. As with the plastic shopping bags charge, which has seen single use carrier bags sales drop by 83% since its introduction in 2015, it is hoped that a charge on coffee cups will reduce the amount of waste being produced and the amount ending up in landfill each year.

The UK’s coffee shop market is growing. According to research, there are more than four times as many coffee shops today as there were back in 2000, with 1 in 5 people visiting a coffee shop every day. Over half of the hot drinks sold are served in disposable coffee cups. These cups, made out of paper and lined with plastic, are often mistakenly thought to be recyclable. Unfortunately, that is not so. 2.5 billion cups are thrown away in the UK each year. Less than 1 in 400 of them – that’s just 0.25% – are actually being recycled.

All this may soon change, however. MPs on the Environmental Audit Committee have recommended the introduction a 25p levy – even more of an incentive towards the use of more sustainable options than the 5p charge that we at The Rooter have previously called for. Research by Professor Wouter Poortinga suggests that a 25p charge on disposable  cups could lead to a reduction in their use of between 50 – 300 million per year. Not only will it encourage consumers to abandon the disposable cups in favour of reusable ones, it will also encourage producers to develop fully recyclable options.

The introduction of a charge will be a step in the right direction for sustainability.