Parliamentary authorities have announced plans to introduce a “latte levy” on takeaway coffee cups and a complete ban on plastic water bottles from the summer of 2018
The radical action to rid parliament of more than 750,000 disposable coffee cups and 125,000 plastic bottles from the estate’s annual waste aims to “virtually eliminate plastics” from the building by 2019.
It follows a campaign launched earlier this year by The Independent to encourage the introduction of reusable coffee cups and calling for coffee shop companies to introduce the 25p charge on disposable cups to combat waste.
Mary Creagh, the Labour MP and chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, who has also been leading a charge for a latte levy, welcomed the move as an “important step to creating the world’s first plastic-free parliament”.
She continued: “Parliament’s action stands in stark contrasts to ministers who consult, announce and reannounce but never seem to do anything to turn back the plastic tide.”
Parliament’s action will include stopping the purchase of all non-recyclable coffee cups, replacing them with a compostable alternative.
For a trial period, a 25p charge will be added to hot drinks in the new cups, which authorities hope will encourage long-term behaviour away from single-use plastics.
And in order to move away from the use of plastic water bottles on the estate, authorities added that the availability of water dispensers will be increased as it stops the sale of bottled mineral water.
Sir Paul Beresford, the Conservative MP and chair of the Administration Committee, which recommended the proposal for the Commons, said he was “delighted” to introduce the measures, adding: “Our aim is to remove, as far as possible, disposable plastic items from the parliamentary estate.”
“Our challenging targets reflect parliament’s commitments to leading the way in environmental sustainability,” he said.
His counterpart in the upper chamber, Lord Laming, said: “Parliament has acknowledged the damaging effect single-use disposable plastic is having on the environment and that it must lead the way in valuing our environmental future over convenience.
“This review has taken a holistic approach to plastic reduction, considering everything from disposable cutlery to packaging. The House of Lords has already substituted plastic straws with compostable paper ones, and eliminated plastic condiment sachets. I am delighted that parliament will now be going much further to reduce the impact we make on the environment.
“We all have a responsibility in this, so it’s time to really start to think about the steps everyone can take to reduce their plastic use. I hope that the measures parliament will implement over the next 12 months will inspire other organisations and people to make changes in their everyday lives.”
Authorities all said that the House of Commons will follow the Lords in discontinuing sachets of condiments – estimated to be around 335,000 per year. Plastic carrier bags will also be phased out and replaced by paper carries bags in shops frequented by tourists on the parliamentary estate.
The action comes after Ms Creagh’s committee recommended the government introduce a “latte levy” on disposable coffee cups across the UK and a complete ban on their sale by 2023.
The committee criticised the government, claiming it had “sat on its hands” as the country threw away 2.5 billion single-use coffee cups a year.
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