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CPRE welcomes coffee cup recommendations

5 January 2018

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) welcomes today’s clear recommendation from the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) that the UK Government should continue to use economic measures to reduce packaging and increase recycling.

The EAC is recommending a 25p charge on disposable coffee cups in its new report, Disposable packaging: Coffee Cups, the second report following its major inquiry into packaging.

CPRE is very pleased with the depth of the inquiry and the strength of the measures that the EAC has recommended. CPRE have long campaigned for financial incentives, such as charges and deposits, to encourage recycling and the reduction of litter and waste. As the success of the 5p charge for single-use plastic bags demonstrates, these are often the most effective way to achieve large-scale changes in behaviour quickly.

Another vital recommendation from the EAC is that packaging producers should be made financially responsible for the packaging they produce. Currently, packaging producers only pay for 10% of the cost of packaging disposal and recycling, leaving taxpayers to foot the bill for the remaining 90%. The EAC urges the Government to adopt a fee structure that rewards producers who design recyclable packaging and increase charges on packaging that is difficult to recycle.

Samantha Harding, Litter Programme Director at the Campaign to Protect Rural England said:

“It’s fascinating that again the cross-party EAC’s analysis of its evidence shows that it is economic measures, such as charges and deposits, that promote the use of re-useable products and increase recycling. Despite some parts of industry claiming the contrary, the majority of people do care about packaging pollution and when they’re given the incentive to act positively, they generally do - the carrier bag charge is the perfect example of that.

“And, of course, we should be moving the huge financial burden of dealing with packaging waste away from over-burdened local councils onto the companies that create it. We know that when they have to bear the full cost, producers very quickly innovate in terms of packaging design and collection systems.”

As the UK’s coffee shop market continues to expand, and millions of coffee cups are thrown away every year, we urgently need a system that captures these hard-to-recycle cups before they are littered, incinerated, or go to landfill, and helps to fund the infrastructure necessary to recycle them.  The EAC is calling on the UK Government to use the money raised through the charge to invest in processing facilities to ensure that all disposable cups are recycled by 2023, and recommends banning them completely if this target is not achieved.

Further recommendations made by the EAC include a requirement for coffee cups from cafes without in-store recycling systems to be labelled as “not widely recycled” to boost consumer awareness. Cafes with in-store recycling systems should label their cups “recyclable in store only”.

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