With 2.5 billion  unrecyclable coffee cups chucked away in the UK each year, North London Waste Authority (NLWA) has called on the UK Government to stop dithering  and implement a charge on their use. NLWA suggests 50p per cup and lid rather than the 25p charge previously proposed by the Government .
Like the plastic bag charge, which has slashed use by 95%  since 2015, NLWA believes that a charge would exponentially encourage more people to use reusable cups. The use of reusable cups declined during the pandemic despite health experts confirming that they were safe to use .
Disposable coffee cups are difficult to recycle because they are made of a mix of plastic and paper. Just the manufacture of cups used in the UK each year produces a needless 152,000 tonnes of CO2 as well as a loss of 1.4 billion litres of water. The disposal also causes further unnecessary greenhouse gases.
NLWA’s call comes on the eve of its eighth annual Waste Prevention Exchange on Wednesday 2 March 2022. The online conference, which is free of charge and open to all, will feature talks by leading experts on how to prevent and reduce unecological waste to help stem the Climate Emergency. Challenges such as how to eliminate carbon-intensive items in waste streams, incentivising the market to become more circular, and effective public communications to increase reuse and recycling will all be examined.
Speakers include Maria Lunetto, Research Fellow at the UCL Centre for Behaviour Change whose lecture is entitled, ‘Harnessing the momentum of the climate emergency to influence waste behaviours’; and Rachel Espinosa, Principal Consultant at Ricardo Energy & Environment on ‘Modelling carbon in waste streams’.
Cllr Clyde Loakes said: “We are facing crises on many fronts, not least the Climate Emergency and pervasive plastic pollution. We need effective solutions now including taxes on polluting products, which can easily be substituted. There would be little pain, but much gained if there’s a charge put on disposable coffee cups. Because we can all still enjoy the simple pleasure of a takeaway latte or flat white. Before the pandemic, more people were switching to reusable cups. We just need to get back to the habit of grabbing a reusable cup when we head out just as we do reusable shopping bags.”
To attend NLWA’s 8th Waste Prevention Exchange please register before 5 pm on 1st March at www.nlwa.gov.uk/campaigns-and-projects/waste-prevention-exchange-2022.
 Figures on coffee cup use are from the House of Commons’ Environment Audit Committee report on Disposable Packaging Coffee Cups 2017-19
 House of Commons’ Environmental Audit Committee report on Disposable Coffee Cups Packaging 2017-19 - page 27