Comment on proposed UK #LatteLevy

Commenting on the announcement today from the UK Environment Audit Committee calling for the UK Government to introduce a 25p levy on single use cups, and for all cups to be recycled by 2023, Derek Robertson our CEO, who gave evidence to the committee on the issue, said:

“With drinks related litter, including cups, noticed by 55% of people in their community and our recent roadside litter audits highlighting that 9% of the litter is single use cups we know they form the fifth highest identifiable item – constituting a huge problem.

“So, we welcome The Committee’s call for action to reduce the number of single use cups, promote reusable cups over disposable cups and to recycle all cups by 2023.  However, we believe that a reduction in single use cup waste can only be effectively addressed by putting in place an integrated approach that deploys a wide range of interventions from government, local authorities and the private sector focusing on consumer behaviour change and infrastructure enhancements. 

“And, we believe some of the levy collected must be used to help fund such a behaviour change campaign, in addition to the much-needed collection and recycling infrastructure and reprocessing facilities. 

“We need to support consumer action and encourage a behaviour change towards reduction and reuse, and while the introduction of a levy will go some way to reducing the number of single use cups used and thrown away in Scotland each year, we believe the focus on coffee cups by The Committee is unhelpful. 

“As a nation, we use 208million single use cups a year for soup, cold drinks and a variety of hot drinks, all of these cups end up as unnecessary waste, and many as litter - our surveys show that 16% of discarded cups are from cold drinks, not coffee.   So, we need to address all single use cups consistently and ensure we don’t just target customers of the big coffee players with a levy.

“The Committee is calling on the Government to adopt a producer responsibility compliance fee structure that rewards design for recyclability and raises charges on packaging that is difficult to recycle. We can reduce our individual use of resources significantly, but for that which remains we agree we urgently need greater domestic recycling capacity and we need more innovative packaging design and improved labelling.  We have said before, we believe producers also have a role to support a, so far chronically underfunded, communication and education campaign aimed at changing people’s behaviour."

“As the UN’s Sustainable Development Global Goals acknowledge, we have been living unsustainably, using resources that cannot be replaced or reused. Global Goal 12 – ‘responsible consumption and production’ must be at the heart of our approach to tackling our relationship with all single use items. 

“Once again, we don’t believe this proposal goes far enough.  It fails to address our unsustainable consumption of single use items, and doesn’t tackle the much-needed reduction of the broad range of items in the waste and litter stream.

“As an early supporter of the Paper Cup Recovery and Recycling Manifesto which was launched in June 2016 by the Paper Cup Recovery and Recycling Group and the Foodservice Packaging Association we are committed to continue to explore new ways of changing the behaviour of those that cause harm to our environment, and are keen to work with all stakeholders, particularly national and local government and industry, to provide innovative and appropriate solutions – such as our exciting exhibit #SipDontTip in the Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art, last year which was visited by thousands and highlighted the issues of litter and waste associated with single use beverage containers.”

05 January 2018


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