UK – The British government has rejected calls to impose the ‘latte levy’ on disposable coffee cups, instead opting to reduce the use of single-use cups through voluntary initiatives.

To reduce on Britain’s 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups a year and as a deposit return scheme for plastic bottles, the Environment Audit Committee (EAC) proposed a US$0.31 levy on coffee cups.

Although the committee hearing the matter insisted that a charge like that introduced on plastic bags was the most effective way to change consumer behaviour, the government suggested that discounts on reusable cups in addition to voluntary actions would do.

“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,” said EAC chair Mary Creagh MP.

The committee recommended that coffee cup labelling should recommend whether coffee cups can be recycled but the government in response said voluntary anti-litter labelling should be embraced instead.

“Consumers deserve to know if their coffee cup will be recycled or not.

The government’s response to my committee’s recommendation not only lacks ambition, and puts coffee in the ‘too difficult’ ministerial in-tray,” added Creagh.

During the inquiry, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ (DEFRA) Voluntary and Economic Incentives agreed to examine coffee cups in their next project, saying that the government should reconsider the charge by introducing a latte levy.

The rejection met criticism from environmental groups calling on ministers to tackle the crisis with the impact of plastic pollution on the environment in mind.

In February, Starbucks, one of the largest coffee company and coffeehouse chain in America started charging 5p for disposable coffee cups in 35 London stores as part of a three-month trial.