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Latte levy: Public back plans for a 25p charge on all drinks sold in disposable cups

Exclusive: More than half of Britons would change their ways on the back of the levy, survey finds 

Joe Watts,Ashley Cowburn
Wednesday 17 January 2018 22:53 GMT
Latte levy: The plastic problem inside your coffee cup

A majority of the public have thrown their weight behind plans for a 25p charge levied on all drinks sold in disposable cups, a new poll has shown.

The exclusive survey for The Independent reveals 54 per cent of people support the latte levy, which aims to reduce the worsening environmental impact of the mountain of disposable cups thrown away in the UK every year.

The poll by BMG Research also suggests the levy – backed by an Independent campaign – would persuade most people to stop using the cups.

Some 2.5 billion of the rarely recycled cups are chucked away annually in the UK causing huge damage, but academic researchers have concluded charging 25p on every drink bought in cup would cut the number by 300 million.

A weighted sample of more than 1,500 people were asked whether they support a proposal with 27 per cent “strongly” backing and a further 27 per cent “somewhat” supporting – 54 per cent backing in total.

Just 20 per cent said that to some degree they would oppose the tax while, 24 per cent said they would “neither support nor oppose”.

When respondents were asked how likely they would be to bring in their own reusable cup or container if such a tax was introduced, a majority said they would – with 29 per cent responding it is “fairly likely” while 27 per cent said it is “very likely”.

Just 14 per cent said they would be “very unlikely” to bring in their own reusable cup instead of paying the extra charge and a further 20 per cent said “fairly unlikely”.

Under proposals put forward by MPs on the Environmental Audit Committee earlier this month the 25p levy could people’s behaviour, and raise money to improve waste reprocessing facilities, so-called “binfastructure”.

Chair of the committee Mary Creagh told The Independent: “It’s really encouraging to see so many people backing the latte levy to tackle the mountain of cups that we create every year.

“Now it’s time for the Government to show leadership on this by bringing in the levy and setting a clear pathway for packaging products to reduce dependence on plastics and phase out non-recycleable cups by 2023 as we have recommended.”

Creating the paper cups to feed the world’s burgeoning coffee house culture sees some 6.5 million trees felled every year.

The amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the production and shipment of 2.5 billion cups – the number discarded in the UK every year – is equivalent to that produced by burning around 120 million litres of petrol.

Theresa May: 'In the UK alone, the amount of single-use plastic wasted every year would fill 1,000 Royal Albert Halls'

Hardly any of them are recycled because the resin they are covered in makes it costly to do so, which means most end up being incinerated or in landfill emitting methane as they decompose and leaking ink into the environment.

Greenpeace UK oceans campaigner Fiona Nicholls said the country needs to make sure it recycles all the plastic it produces, or risk making millions of tonnes of pollution, which ends up in the food chain.

“Non-recyclable plastic products from polystyrene, PVC or mixed materials need to be phased out, and quickly,” she said.

“We need to reduce plastic packaging wherever we can, which in this case means replacing disposable cups with reusable cups, and encouraging business and consumers to use them.”

She added: “This is a big problem which is getting bigger all the time … we must not allow the packaging industry to water down these recommendations any further.”

Sea creatures at bottom of world's deepest point have eaten plastic

Environment minister Theresa Coffey has promised some sort of specific measure on disposable cups when the Government’s waste strategy is published later in the year, but it is yet unclear as to whether they will go for the levy and the push to recycle all cups.

The Independent understands that while the Government is aware of and engaged with the problem, a key stumbling block is finding finance for the extra recycling capacity needed.

Source Note: BMG Research interviewed a representative sample of 1,513 UK adults online between 9 and 12 January. Data are weighted. BMG are members of the British Polling Council and abide by their rules. More details at

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