MPs have called on the government to introduce a 25p levy on disposable coffee cups to “kick start a revolution in recycling”.
The Environmental Audit Committee said money raised from a so-called ‘latte levy’ should be used to improve the UK’s ‘binfrastructure’ and reprocessing facilities.
The cross-party group of MPs has also recommended a target for all disposable coffee cups to be recycled by 2023. If the target is not achieved, the committee has called for a ban on disposable coffee cups.
In its report, entitled Disposable Packaging: Coffee Cups, the committee said producers should be forced to pay more for packaging which is difficult to recycle, while recommending an improvement in labelling to education consumers on how to best dispose of their cup.
Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee Chair, Mary Creagh MP, said: “The UK throws away 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups every year; enough to circle the planet five and a half times. Almost none are recycled and half a million a day are littered. 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.”
Disposable coffee cups are technically recyclable, but most are not recycled because of the cups’ tightly bonded plastic (polyethylene) liner and the complications of recycling packaging contaminated by food or drink, according to the committee.
The UK only has three recycling facilities that can split out the paper and plastic components of coffee cups for recycling. This results in less than 1% of coffee cups being recycled. Most people, however, dispose of their coffee cups in recycling bins believing that they will be recycled, it adds.