Tuesday 1 November 2016

Ministers rejected charges on disposable coffee cups

coffee cups

Ministers have been rejected calls for a charge on the 2.5bn disposable coffee cups thrown away each year because they believe coffee shop chains are already taking enough action to cut down waste.

Therese Coffey told the Liberal Democrats, who have urged the government to impose a 5p charge similar to that levied on plastic bags, that industry and chains were already doing enough voluntarily.

“Many major chains are taking their own action to incentivise environmentally friendly behaviour, for example, offering a discount on drinks if customers bring their own cup,” the environment minister wrote in a letter to Lib Dem MEP Catherine Bearder.

But Starbucks is the only major chain to offer customers a discount, of 25p, if they bring in their own cup. Costa and Pret a Manger give coffee drinkers no financial incentive to reduce the waste created by takeaway cups. Caffe Nero gives customers double stamps on its reward cards for reusable cups.

The minister also pointed to the establishment of an industry group to look at the problem.

“This letter shows the Conservative government is in complete denial about the scandalous waste caused by throwaway coffee cups. Not only is the minister refusing to act, she is refusing to even acknowledge this as an issue,” said Bearder.

It emerged earlier this year that only one in 400 coffee cups are recycled because they are made of a difficult to recycle mix of paper and plastic. That prompted calls for a charge on takeaway cups by the chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and the then-environment minister, Rory Stewart, and saw Starbucks begin a trial of recyclable cups.



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