Reports emerged yesterday that the Resources Minister, Therese Coffey, has rejected calls for a five pence charge on disposable coffee cups because she believes the retailers are already doing enough to tackle the problem.
Reported in several news outlets, including The Guardian, it was said that Coffey was responding to calls from the Liberal Democrat party, which has urged the Government to consider a five pence levy, similar to that imposed on carrier bags.
In a written response to Catherine Bearder MEP, Coffey wrote: “Under the Packaging Waste Regulations, producers that put more than 50 tonnes of packaging materials on the market a year and have an annual turnover of more than £2m must recover and recycle a proportion of their packaging waste. Most major coffee chains pick up a financial obligation to recycle their packaging waste, including cups, through this mechanism.
“Many major chains are taking their own action to incentives environmentally friendly behaviour, for example, offering a discount on drinks if customers bring their own cup.
“The industry has also established a Paper Cup Recycling & Recovery Group (www.pcrrg.uk) to examine the issue alongside the Foodservice Packaging Association. This includes a pledge to increase recycling rates significantly by 2020 and manifesto signed by 45 companies.”
However, as the Guardian noted, only Starbucks operates such a system to offer discounts fir using reusable cups.
“This letter shows the Conservative government is in complete denial about the scandalous waste caused by throwaway coffee cups. Not only is the minister refusing to act, she is refusing to even acknowledge this as an issue,” commented Bearder in response.