A report on disposable coffee cups by the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee said 2.5 billion were used in the United Kingdom every year, with only 0.25% being recycled, and producing 30,000 tonnes of waste annually.
In the Environmental Audit Committee's report on paper cups, the government is also being called to ensure that all coffee cups are recycled by 2023 or introduce a ban on the disposable cups if that target is not reached.
The report sheds light on the UK's growing love affair with coffee, and the resultant impact on coffee cup use.
"The U.K.'s coffee shop market is expanding rapidly, so we need to kick start a revolution in recycling", she said.
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The committee's chair, Mary Creagh MP, said: "The UK throws away 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups every year - that's enough to circle the planet five and a half times".
Chains Pret A Manger, Costa Coffee, Caffe Nero and Greggs alongside USA firm Starbucks are among the biggest coffee-sellers in Britain and have rapidly expanded in the last 10 years to meet increasing demand. Coffee shops have been sending out mixed messages for years, emphasising that their cups are "recyclable" and staying silent on the fact they are not actually recycled. The three-month trial will begin in February. Pret a Manger CEO Clive Schlee, writing for HuffPost about the chain's recent decision to introduce a 50p discount for customers bringing a reusable cup, said: "We debated whether charging people for using paper cups felt right". If an effective recycling system is not established and achieves high levels of recycling by this date, the Government should ban disposable coffee cups. It's also been suggested that the cups be phased out, with a full ban by 2023.
Money raised by the 5p charge will go to environmental charity Hubbub, which will use it to research how customers can be encouraged to switch to reusable cups. We are committed to increasing recycling rates.
"Finally, we will continue to remind customers through our in-store marketing about the ongoing 25p cup discount and the benefits of going reusable".
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Only one per cent of the cups sold by cafés "to-go" are recycled, most are sent for landfill or incineration. Criticised at first, it has made a discernible difference, hence why this latest proposal should be regarded as an opportunity to protect the environment rather than just another tax that milks consumers.
What's wrong with regular coffee shop users taking their own cup if it avoids the charge? Potential revenue from a levy, according to the report, is estimated at £428 million, which the committee advises should be invested in the UK's recycling infrastructure. Neil Whittall, its Head of Coffee, said: "Whilst paper cups are fully recyclable, the industry recognises that many are not being recycled because of a lack of collection facilities".
In his Budget, Chancellor Philip Hammond described plastic waste as a "scourge" and announced that he and Environment Secretary Michael Gove would investigate a single-use plastic tax to reduce waste.
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