Starbucks coffee cup charge: What do people think about the 5p levy?

The public reveal their thoughts on US coffee giant's decision to charge for disposable containers used in 35 London branches

Josh Gabbatiss
Science Correspondent
Friday 02 March 2018 16:32
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What do people think of Starbucks charging 5p for coffee cups?

Starbucks has become the first British coffee chain to trial its own “latte levy”, in the form of a 5p charge on disposable coffee cups.

The scheme was rolled out this week in 35 selected London branches, in a three-month trial conducted in association with environmental charity Hubbub.

All proceeds from the trial will go to Hubbub, which will help the US coffee giant track the success of its trial and determine whether or not it encourages the use of reusable cups.

It will also use some of the funds to support other waste management campaigns across London.

As part of our Cut the Cup Waste campaign, The Independent took to the streets to find out what the public think of the trial.

People were broadly supportive of the levy, making comparisons with the successful charge for plastic bags that has been heralded as bringing about an 80 per cent drop in their use across the UK.

“I’m sure it will take some time for people to cotton on that they’re going to get charged, but I guess it’s the same as plastic bags in supermarkets,” one interviewee told The Independent.

“I think it’s a great idea but I think it should be more – I think it should be 50p,” said another.

Latte levy: The plastic problem inside your coffee cup

This chimes with the wider support a proposed latte levy has received from the public.

After MPs on the Environmental Audit Committee first proposed a 25p levy to help discourage disposable cup use, an exclusive survey for The Independent revealed 54 per cent of the British public supported such a levy.

Reusable cups discounts are in place across several coffee chains to encourage people to avoid disposable cups, but they have had minimal effect.

Starbucks has noted that while its discount has been in place for 20 years, less that 2 per cent of its customers currently take advantage of it.

Other people The Independent asked were not convinced by the idea a levy would solve the problem.

“I’m not too sure,” one member of the public said. “I think it’s just an excuse for another charge.”

When the committee released its report in January, one of the key areas it highlighted was the need for businesses to take more financial responsibility for their packaging recycling.

As it stands taxpayers shoulder 90 per cent of the costs of coffee cup disposal.

Peter Goodwin, director of the first UK coffee cup recycling scheme told The Independent that “everyone needs to take responsibility” for this issue.

“The industry knew that cups weren’t being recycled,” he said. “The Government is equally to blame as the business community.”

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