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Definition and development of functional barriers for the use of recycled materials in multilayer food packaging

TECHNOLOGICAL WATCH

Type of information: NEWS

In this section, you can access to the latest technical information related to the BANUS project topic.

British parliamentary committee recommends levy on take-away coffee cups

English coffee drinkers could soon be charged to use takeaway coffee cups, after the environment committee at the British parliament suggested a 25p (€0.29) levy, to combat parlous recycling rates.

Only one per cent of the cups sold by cafés ‘to-go’ are recycled, most are sent for landfill or incineration.

The last decade has brought about an explosion in the UK 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. The multi-layer material prevents the cup being recycled in solely paper or plastics recycling streams.

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Recycling coffee cup - a rare sight in British towns.

Mary Creagh, the chair of House of Commons’ environment committee, said the British government had “sat on its hands” over the tide of takeaway drinks cups, with half a million littered every day: “We urge the government to introduce a 25p charge on disposable cups. Coffee shops have been pulling the wool over customers’ eyes, telling us their cups can be recycled, when less than one per cent are.

“The government should set a target for all disposable coffee cups to be recycled by 2023. If a sustainable recycling system for disposable coffee cups cannot be set up by this date, they should be banned.”

Dr Laura Foster, Head of Clean Seas at campaign group the Marine Conservation Society, said: “A charge added to our coffee at the point of purchase will help consumers think about whether to take a refillable cup to the café and encourage cafés to use traditional cups and mugs rather than hand out single-use cups when it’s not necessary.

“Take-away coffee cups may look like cardboard through-and-through but on the inside they are lined with a plastic, making them hard to recycle and resulting in 99 per cent of them being destined for landfill or incineration. 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.”

Huhtamaki, the Finnish foodservice company responsible for the largest share of takeaway cups made in the UK, started a project late in 2017 to improve recycling availability for the cups alongside the largest food and drinks outlet firms. Neil Whittall, its Head of Coffee, said: “Whilst paper cups are fully recyclable, the industry recognises that many are not being recycled because of a lack of collection facilities. Companies across the industry have been working to address this barrier and increase cup recycling.

“By generating greater volumes of cups for recycling this will create a market for the material, making cups more attractive to waste management companies and creating the potential for more schemes to be introduced to collect cups from a much wider range of locations such as offices and high street locations.”

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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for Research, technological development and demonstration (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement n° [606572].

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