Britain calls for ‘latte levy’ to reduce coffee cup waste

Government officials in Britain are calling for a “latte levy” on disposable coffee cups followed by a total ban unless manufacturers can make then recyclable, according to a report published Friday.

Britain government is calling for a “latte levy" on disposable coffee cups. A report released Friday states 2.5 billion are thrown away annually, enough to stretch around the world five and a half times. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo
Britain government is calling for a “latte levy” on disposable coffee cups. A report released Friday states 2.5 billion are thrown away annually, enough to stretch around the world five and a half times. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

The 25p tax, a U.S. coin equivalency of about 34 cents, will be used to invest in better recycling facilities around the country, according to the report.

In Britain each year, 2.5 billion coffee cups are used and thrown away, enough to stretch around the world five and a half times. The report also states about 500,000 cups are littered every day, creating an “unsightly and damaging blight” on the environment.

Many coffee drinkers do not realize the disposable paper coffee cups they buy are lined with plastic, which makes them waterproof but also makes the cup non-recyclable because most recycling facilities cannot remove the plastic lining.

“If more people used reusable coffee cups there would be less waste, which would reduce the burden on local authorities. This would cut costs for coffee retailers, who would need to purchase and dispose of fewer cups,” the report states.

The plan also calls for a 2023 target to ban all non-recyclable coffee cups and increase charges for companies who do not invest recyclable materials.

Paper cup distributors argue most are sustainably sourced, responsibly produced, are recyclable in many facilities and that “taxing the morning coffee run will not address the issue of litter, but it will hurt consumers.”

Environmentalists agree with the tax, saying much like the plastic bag upcharge, a tax added to coffee at the point of purchase will urge consumers to bring a refillable cup to the café.

By Susan McFarland