Proposed 5p paper cup charge set to change consumer behaviour

January 18, 2018

MPís have proposed for a 25p levy on disposable coffee cups in a bid to tackle wastage and encourage recycling, as well as to reduce littering.

Currently, the UK throws away 2.5 billion disposable cups each year. To put this into perspective, this would be enough to circle the planet five and a half times, and amounts to almost 5,000 cups thrown away per minute.

It has been the assumption that these disposable Ďpaperí cups are recyclable, however, fewer than one in 400 can be recycled due to the difficulties and the cost in separating the plastic and paper parts, meaning almost all the cups are incinerated, exported or sent to landfill.

Implementing a compulsory charge for disposable paper cups would boost the investment needed to go towards growing the infrastructure to improve recycling, as well as the development of on-the-go packaging.

Concerns over this change can be addressed by exploring the positive affect the similar initiative regarding plastic carrier bags has had, where their usage has dropped by 83% within supermarkets, and over £66milion being raised for worthy causes. This demonstrates the consumers ability to quickly adapt to new buying habits.

The reaction from popular coffee shop chains to this proposed scheme has resulted in their creative changes to tackle and reduce the use of their disposable paper cups.

A scheme already being trialled by high-street chain Pret a Manger involves providing a 50p discount on their hot drinks for their customers who bring in their own reusable cup, in a bid to help change their buying habits and reduce waste.

Additionally, the high street giant, Starbucks, plans to launch a 3-month trial of charging their customers 5p for drinks in a paper cups, within 25 of their London stores from February 2018.

This change in tackling wastage is driven by the Commons Environmental Audit Committee who look to have all throwaway cups recycled by 2023.