Disposable coffee cups should be recycled or banned

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A marine charity has said action is needed to highlight the amount of coffee cups which are dumped rather than recycled

5th January 2018 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

Marine experts have said that disposable coffee cups should be banned if they cannot be recycled.

Less than 1% of takeaway cups used by coffee shops - which are often made of a combination of cardboard and plastic - are recycled in the UK.

A "latte levy" for those who want disposable cups has been proposed by the government to cut the amount of waste, working in a similar way to the recently introduced plastic bag charge.

The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) has welcomed the recommendations in a report from Westminster's environmental audit committee, which proposes a levy of 25p on disposable coffee cups with the revenue raised paying for improved recycling facilities.

Over the last five years, the MCS Beachwatch beach clean and survey programme has seen an increase of 93% in coffee cups found on UK beaches.

The marine charity has said having to pay extra will highlight to consumers that their cardboard coffee cup is typically lined with plastic, meaning recycling is extremely difficult.

Dr Laura Foster, MCS head of clean seas, said: "Just like the plastic bag charge we are all now familiar with, a charge added to our coffee at the point of purchase will help consumers think about whether to take a refillable cup to the café and encourage cafes to use traditional cups and mugs rather than hand out single-use cups when it’s not necessary.

“Take-away coffee cups may look like cardboard through-and-through but on the inside they are lined with a plastic, making them hard to recycle and resulting in 99% of them being destined for landfill or incineration.

“We totally agree with the committee that if 100% 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.”

Last year, a YouGov survey for MCS revealed that 74% of people questioned would support a charge on single use coffee cups.

Chair of the environmental audit committee, Mary Creagh MP, said: “The UK throws away 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups every year; enough to circle the planet five and a half times. Almost none are recycled and half a million a day are littered.”