Industry responds to coffee cups report

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The company announced the charge after learning that the Commons environmental audit committee would recommend today that the government introduce a minimum 25p "latte levy" on disposable cups. "We agree with the committee that if complete recycling of coffee cups isn't reached by 2023, then there should be an outright ban on providing them - and that date should be set in stone".

The last decade has brought about an explosion in the United Kingdom café culture, as the traditional English cup of tea has succumbed to its roasted rival, with the milky latte taking top spot as the nation's most popular takeaway hot drink, served in paper cups laminated with a plastic sheeting, which waterproof the containers and stop hot drinks leaking onto customer's hands.

Mr Palmer-Jones said: "For any so-called latte tax to be more than just a light and frothy foam nod to reform, we need to wake up and smell the real coffee needed for a lasting brew". According to the report, "almost half of all coffees and hot drinks" are sold in disposable cups.

Takeaway beverage chains including Caffè Nero, Costa Coffee, McDonald's, Pret A Manger and Starbucks have signed up to a scheme to collect and recycle more of the current types of cup.

MPs said: "It is unacceptable that coffee sellers are perpetuating customer confusion though their use of recycling labels and emphasis on the recyclability of coffee cups, despite the shockingly low recycling rate", the report said.

The MPs say throwaway cups should be prohibited altogether by 2023 if they are not all being recycled.

Some coffee shops give customers discounts for bringing their own refillable cups.

Huhtamaki, the Finnish foodservice company responsible for the largest share of takeaway cups made in the United Kingdom, started a project late in 2017 to improve recycling availability for the cups alongside the largest food and drinks outlet firms.

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The chain said its efforts to persuade customers to buy reusable cups had led to a 1.8% uptake. The three-month trial will begin in February.

"It places an unfair and additional cost on coffee drinking consumers only - despite paper cups only contributing 0.7% of total paper packaging waste", he told BBC News.

"The evidence is clear that these levies work - the 5p charge on plastic bags has massively reduced usage and helped protect our environment".

"The whole point is to change behaviour and I'm glad the select committee has endorsed this Liberal Democrat campaign", he said.

Foodservice Packaging Association executive director Martin Kersh fears a ban on disposable cups would cause some coffee shops to close. The plastic lining in cups makes them very expensive to recycle, and the businesses who are responsible for handing them to customers pay just 10% of the bill for dealing with the waste packaging!

Since 2015, English consumers have been charged five pence for single use plastic bags at large shops.

The Grocer has contacted Pret and Costa for comment.

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