UK Government considering “latte levy”

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12 Jan 2018 --- A proposal to introduce a 25 pence so-called “latte levy” on disposable coffee cups will be considered by the UK Government as Britain sharpens its focus on environmental policy and ways to cut down on plastics.

Britain’s Environment Secretary Michael Gove says he is open to the idea which has been put forward by the Commons Environmental Audit Committee. 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.

Five pence plastic bag levy could be expanded
Meanwhile, the British Soft Drinks Association has welcomed the UK Government’s launch of its 25 Year Environment Plan for England which includes a potential extension to the five pence charge for plastic carrier bags to cover all retailers in England.

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 (US$0.07) for a single-use plastic bag. The five pence charge was introduced in 2015 and led to an 83 percent reduction in UK plastic bag use in the first year.

Director General at the British Soft Drinks Association welcomes the reform on plastics. “BSDA and its members welcome the launch of government’s 25 Year Environment Plan and its commitment to an evidence-based approach to establishing the best way to deal with plastic waste,” he said.

“The ambition is for all our packaging in the UK to be 100 percent recyclable, that consumers recycle and that drinks containers do not end up as litter in our towns, countryside, rivers and oceans.”

“China’s decision to ban plastic waste imports has further exposed the gaps in the UK’s recycling infrastructure and emphasized the need for a reform of the current compliance system.

“We believe that by working together with governments, NGO’s and other stakeholders real progress can be achieved to make the UK the world leader in creating a truly circular economy.”
The ban on plastic microbeads that are used in personal care products and cosmetics also came into force in the UK.

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