The UK government will consider a proposal to introduce a 25 pence levy on disposable coffee cups.
Britain’s Environment Secretary Michael Gove says he is open to the idea which has been put forward by the Commons Environmental Audit Committee, as Britain sharpens its focus on environmental policy and ways to cut down on plastics.
Ministers recommend a 25 pence charge on disposable coffee cups in a bid to stem the waste caused by mountains of throw-away cups being used and binned every day in the UK. There are also wider calls for a total ban on non-recyclable throw-away cups unless manufacturers can come up with another innovation that makes them recyclable.
There are complications with recycling disposable coffee cups because the cup’s polyethylene coating must be removed before the cup can be recycled. The issue has been gaining traction over the last couple of years with many of the larger high street coffee chains introducing campaigns and promotions on reusable coffee cups.
Gove has said that many consumers are already prepared to pay more to help the environment, although stressed that the effectiveness of introducing such a policy needs to be examined further.
Under British Prime Minister Theresa May’s new plan, supermarkets will also be encouraged to introduce “plastic-free” aisles and taxes, while charges on single-use plastic items will be considered as part of planned Government consultations.
It is all part of a broader initiative to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste within 25 years, by 2042. Avoidable plastic waste includes plastic bags, straws, coffee stirrers, soda and water bottles and the majority of food packaging. There is also some discussion that over the forthcoming years, other types of plastic could be subject to further levies.
May announced the plan to close the exemption that means retailers with fewer than 250 employees do not have to charge customers 5 pence for a single-use plastic bag.
The five pence charge was introduced in 2015 and led to an 83% reduction in UK plastic bag use in the first year.