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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.

'Latte levy' recommended by MPs to counter parlous rate of takeaway coffee cup recycling

Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee has added to its New Year recycling recommendations with plans for cafés to implement a 25p charge for take-away coffee cups.

After the widely-perceived success of the five pence carrier bag charge, attention has turned to the 99 per cent of cups sold by the likes of Costa, owned by Whitbread; or Café Ritazza and Starbucks, operated by SSP Group or Starbucks UK Ltd, which go straight to landfill.

The MPs have suggested cafés charge a ‘latte levy’ on the cups to reduce litter and encourage busy coffee drinkers to fill a reusable container.

The paper cups are laminated with a plastic sheeting, to waterproof the containers and stop the 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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Coffee cup recycling - only one per cent of takeaway cups are recycled in the UK.

Mary Creagh, Labour MP for Wakefield and the environment committee’s chair, said the government had “sat on its hands” over the tide of takeaway drinks cups, with half a million littered every day: “The [five pence] plastic bag charge is proof that charges are highly effective at reducing packaging waste. 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.”

David Palmer-Jones, Chief Executive Officer of Suez Recycling UK, said: “Taxes on takeaway coffee cups may provide a helpful nudge to consumers to abandon a throw-away culture, but for lasting change, proposals like these need to be part of wider, joined-up reform that shifts the burden of responsibility for all forms of packaging content, recyclability and ultimately their collection, back to the producer.

“Disposable coffee cups may only represent a small fraction of the national annual tonnage of card and plastics produced which are lost from our recycling streams, but they leave the worst taste reminder of how on-the-go consumption can result in needless waste of our precious natural resources.”

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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