British Coffee Drinkers May Be Hit With a 'Latte Levy'

Tax on disposable cups would be aimed at fighting waste
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 5, 2018 1:29 PM CST
Britain Could Tax Coffee Cups in Bid to Fight Waste
A customer carries a coffee drink in a red paper cup, with a cardboard cover attached, outside a Starbucks coffee shop in the Pike Place Market, Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2015, in Seattle.   (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

A trip to Starbucks could get slightly more expensive for British coffee drinkers. The Christian Science Monitor reports some lawmakers in Britain are recommending a 34-cent "latte levy" on disposable cups." Fewer than 1% of disposable coffee cups in Britain are recycled for a variety of reasons, including the difficulty of recycling products that have plastic liners or have touched food and drink. Parliament's Environmental Audit Committee says the money from the new tax on disposable cups would be used to improve recycling facilities. If recycling goals for disposable cups still aren't met by 2023, the committee says the cups should be outright banned.

A spokesperson for Britain's Environment Ministry says it "will carefully consider the committee's recommendation." But the "latte levy" is, obviously, opposed by companies that make disposable cups. "Taxing the morning coffee run will not address the issue of litter, but it will hurt consumers and impact already struggling High Streets," Mike Turner of the Paper Cup Alliance tells the BBC. He says the industry is working to increase recycling rates. Meanwhile, Starbucks is going to test out its own disposable cup surcharge in a few dozen London locations to see if it causes more customers to bring their own reusable cups, CBS News reports. Starbucks, like other chains, offers a discount to customers who bring their own cups, but the Environmental Audit Committee says only 1% to 2% of customers actually do so. (More coffee cup stories.)

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