Tories lambasted for rejecting 'latte levy' on takeaway cups

Government accused of warm words but no action on reducing throwaway packaging waste

The government has rejected calls for a “latte levy” to be introduced on takeaway cups to reduce the amount of waste they create.

Mary Creagh, the chair of the environmental audit committee, accused ministers of being all talk and no action after they refused to adopt a charge on throwaway cups similar to the plastic bag levy.

It comes after the environment secretary, Michael Gove, again failed to act to introduce a plastic bottle deposit scheme, despite Theresa May’s declaration of “war” on single-use plastic and consideration of policies, including a tax on takeaway containers.

Publishing the government’s response to her committee’s call for a 25p levy on takeaway cups, Creagh, a Labour MP, said: “The UK’s throwaway culture is having a devastating impact on our streets, beaches and seas. Our report recommended practical solutions to the disposable packaging crisis. The government’s response shows that despite warm words they plan no real action.”

Consultation by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) on a plastic deposit scheme was carried out last autumn but has not yet been published. A consultation announced in November by the chancellor, Philip Hammond, into taxes and charges on takeaway packaging and plastic bottles has yet to be launched.

The committee’s key recommendation of a 25p levy on cups to help fund recycling measures was judged the most effective way to change consumer behaviour.

Disposable cups are not recyclable via the normal systems. Half a million are thrown away each day in the UK and just one in 400 are recycled.

The committee also recommended that cup labelling should state where they can be recycled. But ministers chose to leave anti-litter labelling decisions up to producers.

Creagh said the government’s labelling proposal missed the point and its overall response lacked ambition.

A spokesperson for Defra said: “It is wrong to say government is not taking decisive action. We have set out our commitment to the environment in our 25-year plan, published in January, and we are looking at further ways to reduce
avoidable waste and recycle more as part of our resources and waste strategy.”

Defra said Hammond’s tax consultation would be published soon. “Clearly, the 5p single-use plastic bag charge has had a big impact and far fewer are being sold. So these types of incentives can change consumer behaviour and this is something we could consider amongst other policy options.”


Sandra Laville

The GuardianTramp

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