25p ‘Latte Levy’ not needed with industry willing to fund recycling, says FPA

08/01/2018 - 07:00
The Food Packaging Association (FPA) has called on MPs to rethink its proposal of a 25p levy on disposable coffee cups as a way of reducing waste.

A selection of ministers made the recommendation to Government to introduce the levy last week through an Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) report.

The FPA has warned that the move would hit consumers hardest as producers would be likely to raise prices to compensate for the tax.

It also called the proposals “unnecessary” as the industry was willing to provide funding for recycling.

Martin Kersh, executive director of the FPA, said: “A 25p charge, which works out at over £20,000 per tonne, would most likely be considered as legally accounting for the producer responsibility obligation for disposable cups so effectively shifting the charge from the producer to the consumer.

“Business has made clear its willingness to provide greater funding to achieve more collection and recycling through the PRN system. Surely Government should seize this opportunity and reform the system?”

The key to increased recycling, it said, was to increase collection which requires an on-the-go waste management infrastructure that "addresses all packaging used in this way and not just cups".

“The public needs a simple, UK-wide solution, one which is made possible by the introduction of an on-the-go waste management infrastructure,” added Kersh.

“To fund this requires a reform of the UK Producer Responsibility (Packaging Recovery Note) mechanism, a development that has been endorsed by many of the UK’s leading retailers and brands and is referenced as a requirement in the EAC Report.”

In its report, the EAC also raised the possibility of a complete ban on single use coffee cups being imposed in 2023 if all are not being recycled by then.

Kersh labelled the idea “impossible” and said no target should be put in place until the PRN system is reformed.

“It would require all consumers to dispose of packaging correctly, for all the packaging to be sorted and all to be taken to an appropriate facility. All without loss or damage. There isn’t one country in the world that has achieved 100% recycling even with a deposit.

“By threatening a disposable cup ban it seems the EAC does not appreciate such an action would have an adverse effect on the amount coffee consumption on the go which in turn will lead to a fall in the number of coffee shops on the high street.

“The role of the high street has been described by Mary Portas as a social asset. The reduction of coffee shops in our high streets creates a huge hole in this social aspect. The coffee shop culture has helped regenerate our high streets, has created employment and provided much needed business rates.”

The FPA says it supports the report's call for more businesses to be obligated to take part in the UK’s Producer Responsibility PRN system by reducing the qualifying tonnage requirement of business to 1 tonne from 50.

“We support a reduction but suggest all VAT registered businesses who place packaging on the market whether retailers, manufacturers and producers, be required to take part,” said Kersh.

“This will make the system simpler to police and will establish a much greater responsibility for packaging right across the whole of UK business.”

It is estimated that at least 2.5 billion coffee cups are thrown away each year in the UK.

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