The Government should introduce a 25p latte levy on disposable coffee cups

This is necessary to tackle Britain's mountain of coffee cup waste.

Only 1 in 400 disposable coffee cups are recycled in the UK.

We've been looking at what action the Government should take to cut down disposable coffee cup waste. 

We heard from environmental researchers, academics, NGOs, coffee trade representatives, packaging producers, local authorities and Government Ministers and officials.

2.5 billion coffee cups are thrown away each year in the UK

 That's enough to stretch around the world five and a half times

Image Credit: Cup Left Behind by Sarah Gilbert (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Coffee cups are recyclable, but almost none are.

This is because of their tightly bonded plastic lining, which is difficult to remove, and the challenges of recycling packaging that's contaminated by food.

As a result, less than 1% of disposable coffee cups are recycled in the UK.

Watch the Committee hear from industry insiders and academics.

Around 500,000 cups are littered every day – an unsightly and damaging blight on our environment

Some coffee shop chains in the UK have made voluntary commitments to recycle more disposable cups by setting up in-store recycling systems.

To recycle your disposable coffee cup, check:
- Does your local cafe have an in-store recycling bin?
- Does your council accept them in household recycling? 

Video Credit: UK House of Commons

Taxpayers currently pay 90% of the cost of packaging waste disposal.

Coffee cups make recycling more expensive for local authorities because they contaminate on-street recycling bins. 

Using fewer disposable coffee cups would reduce sorting costs for local authorities.

A culture of using a reusable cup wherever possible should be encouraged to reduce coffee cup waste 


Image Credit: UK House of Commons

This is important because reducing waste is always better than recycling.

Take your own cup with you wherever you can.

The charge on plastic bags prompted consumers to change their habits, reducing plastic bag use by over 83% in the first year.

We recommend that the Government introduces a 25p levy on disposable cups

Image Credit: Lex Sirikiat on  Unsplash

The money raised should be used to create more recycling facilities and binfrastructure for the coffee cups 


Image Credit: Russell Square recycling point cc-by-sa/2.0 - ©  Hugh Venables -

The coffee shop industry needs a clear recycling target to push them to plan and invest in greater recycling infrastructure and management.

There is no excuse for the reluctance from Government and industry to address coffee cup waste.

Disposable coffee cups are an avoidable form of waste and if their future sustainability cannot be proved, they should be banned.

We recommend that the Government sets a target that all disposable coffee cups should be recycled by 2023 

Image Credit: Garbage Day – Coffee Cups by Jeff Werner (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

If this target is not achieved, the Government should ban disposable coffee cups

Image Credit:  Rab Fyfe on  Unsplash

We delivered these recommendations to the Government's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on Friday 5th January 2018. They have two months to respond.

Read our full report on Disposable Packaging: Coffee Cups and find out more about our inquiry on our website.

You can read all of the evidence we received on how to reduce coffee cup waste and improve recycling on our website.