Charge on coffee cups to boost recycling proposed by United Kingdom lawmakers

Starbucks to test coffee cup charge as industry responds to EAC report

"The UK throws away 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups every year - that's enough to circle the planet five and a half times", said committee's chair, Mary Creagh MP.

The report says disposable coffee cups are "made from paper and lined with plastic" which renders them waterproof.

As a result just one in 400 cups are recycled - less than 0.25 per cent.

"Their silence speaks volumes", MPs said.

According to the report, "almost half of all coffees and hot drinks" are sold in disposable cups.

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

Only three companies in the United Kingdom recycle coffee cups.

Fiona Nicholls from Greenpeace UK, said the problem was getting bigger: "We must not allow the packaging industry to water down these recommendations any further". Other efforts were "inconsistent and need targets" to be imposed by the government.

Coffee chains have been "pulling the wool over the eyes" of customers by letting them believe paper cups can be recycled, MPs warned. "Those without in-store recycling should print their cups with a not widely recyclable label".

Responding to this announcement, Dr Laura Foster of the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) said: "We totally agree with the committee that if 100 per cent recycling of coffee cups isn't reached by 2023, then there should be an outright ban on providing them - and that date should be set in stone". Within a year, England's use of plastic bags had declined by 85 per cent.

The committee last month recommended the government introduce a plastic bottle deposit scheme to cut plastic waste and leakage into the oceans. "Anything that would help facilitate the recycling of these cups is a good thing", he said.

The last decade has brought about an explosion in the United Kingdom café culture, as the traditional English cup of tea has succumbed to its roasted rival, with the milky latte taking top spot as the nation's most popular takeaway hot drink, served in paper cups laminated with a plastic sheeting, which waterproof the containers and stop hot drinks leaking onto customer's hands.

Edwin Harrison, owner of the independent Artisan coffee shop in West London, fears many of his customers would stay away if a charge was brought in.

Just five retailers have taken up Cropper's cup recycling initiative and the firm has recycled just 10m cups following a target of 500 million a year.

Ms Creagh added: "A reusable cup is one of the easiest ways to reduce cup waste, but the discounts offered by coffee companies are ineffective". A spokesman said the money raised would be donated to a charity to run a study on how to change the public's behaviour and encourage the use of reusable cups.

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