United Kingdom: looking to end disposable coffee cups

The country wants to tax with 25 pence (about 34 cents of a US dollar) to those who drink coffee to go

United Kingdom: looking to end disposable coffee cups

A group of British Members of Parliament proposed taxing the hundreds of millions of disposable paper cups that are used every year in the country and allocate the money to improve their recycling. The funds gathered would serve to advance the aim of recycling all these vessels before 2023. If it fails, the members of Parliament believe that the Government should prohibit these cups.

The Committee's audit environmental of the Chamber of the Commons of the United Kingdom has produced a report that examines the growth of the coffee industry and the business of coffee shops, and the volume of disposable cups used each year. According to the data, the business of cafeterias has quadrupled since 2000, and one of every five consumers visit this type of establishment, which results in the the use of billions of disposable cups when unfortunately only 0.25% of these vessels is recycled.

The initiative of the Conference suggests that users pay 23 pence per glass (34 dollars cents) at a tax that has been already named "tax latte".

"Every year 2,500 million disposable cups are used in the United Kingdom, enough to encircle the Earth five times and average. Almost none of them are recycled", said the Chairman of the Committee, Mary Creagh.

Most of the vessels that use the cafes cannot be recycled, since to make them water resistant, the majority of companies use polyethylene, a material that cannot be separated in a recycling plant to be reused, and, although in theory it can be recycled, it would need a specialized recycling plant of which there are few in the world. In view of this, MEPs believe that manufacturers of vessels that mix plastic and paper for its manufacture should pay more.

Some chains, like Starbucks, have wanted to take action on the matter and have announced that they will launch an extra five pence (7.4 cents of a US dollar) for each disposable cup. The experiment will be held for a period of three months in an approximately 25 establishments in London starting in February 2018. In prior, Starbucks offered a discount of 50 pence (74 USD cents), "but that did not change things", admitted the company, explaining that only 1.8% of their customers were bringing their own cup. Now, the coffee chain has announced that it will offer back discounts to local customers who bring their own reusable cups.

The money raised will be used to conduct a study on how to change the behavior of the consumer and encourage the use of reusable cups. There is no doubt that such actions are not the most appropriate if not taken into account the need to change the business model, the prohibition of this type of packaging or containers and the use of other alternatives, such as a tax going directly to the source of the problem.


Latin American Post | Diana Ramos

Copy edited by Laura Rocha Rueda

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