The Environmental Audit Committee released its disposable cup report findings today. Suggestions included a ‘latte levy’ charging customers 25p for a disposable cup, which will be reinvested in recycling sites, on-street recycling points, and a threat to ban disposable cups unless they were all recycled by 2023. Here’s how the coffee industry reacted:

British Coffee Association

“Long-term sustainability and driving a circular economy are of paramount importance to the UK coffee industry and we welcome the EAC report in its reduce, reuse and recycle initiatives, particularly those that drive innovation of using only recyclable materials, and in working towards a goal of recycling all paper cups.

“However, we don’t think that a proposed 25p tax on non-reusable cups would fix this issue. Instead it places an unfair and additional cost on coffee-drinking consumers only - despite paper cups only contributing 0.7% of total paper packaging waste. We urge the UK government to ensure that if any potential tax is considered, that it is ring-fenced and used specifically to invest in new ’binfrastructure’ and to improve recycling processes with local authorities that make it easier to separate and stream paper cups and other waste products.

“Whilst paper cups have received significant attention, we must also continue to collaborate across the sector on much broader sustainability issues across the supply chain such as water use reduction, carbon reduction, and turning waste coffee grounds into biofuel, where our industry has already created significant action.”


Caffè Nero

The EAC Disposable Packaging: Coffee Cups report is an important addition to the debate on paper cups and disposable packaging as a whole.

Caffè Nero is a signatory of the 2016 Paper Cup Manifesto, a cross industry public commitment recognised by DEFRA to increase the sustainable recovery and recycling of paper cups. We will continue to work with fellow members of the Paper Cups Recovery & Recycling Group (PCRRG) to understand and address the current issues which prevent the widespread recycling of paper cups.



“Through our nationwide in-store recycling scheme we have recovered over 12 million cups for recycling since February 2017 but understand the serious need to ensure better infrastructure is available outside of our stores. To encourage our customers to use reusable cups we already offer a 25p discount, which we will be further promoting this year. 

“We believe the government must consider a mix of measures to address this issue with a focus on improving the UK’s waste and recycling infrastructure. We look forward to continuing our ongoing work with the government, as part of their wider review into single-use plastics and recycling.”

Paper Cup Alliance

“Paper cups are the most sustainable and safe solution for drinks on-the-go. Consumers want to do the right thing and we’re taking steps to support that through new infrastructure and country-wide initiatives.

“The paper cups we manufacture in the UK are sustainably sourced, responsibly produced, recyclable and, through a number of facilities, are being recycled. We are committed to increasing recycling rates. Over 4,000 new recycling points were created in 2017 and a new country-wide initiative is launching during January increasing options for consumers to recycle. Taxing the morning coffee run will not address the issue of litter but it will hurt consumers and impact already struggling high streets. No packaging type is totally recycled and a ban on paper cups would hit manufacturing jobs and damage a growing service industry which makes a major contribution to UK plc.”

Pret A Manger 

In November, Pret’s CEO Clive Schlee tweeted asking customers, “How do we encourage customers to bring reusable coffee cups to @Pret? We’re thinking of increasing the discount for bringing your own cup from 25p to 50p. Our organic filter coffee would cost just 49p. I’d love to hear your thoughts.” Clive was inundated with suggestions, ideas and feedback. All of them were constructive and the vast majority were supportive.

On the basis of this valuable feedback, Pret has this week (from 1 January 2018) introduced a 50p discount on hot drinks for those who bring in a reusable cup and committed to sourcing a well-designed reusable cup to launch later in 2018.


“We recognise that there is growing concern about the number of single-use paper cups being used and that our customers are interested in ways that we can help them reduce, reuse and recycle.

“To that end we will be exploring the impact that a cup charge may have in changing behaviour in addition to the measures we, and the whole industry, are taking on cup recycling.

“In order to better understand how this could work we will trial and promote a 5p cup charge in 20-25 central London stores. We will investigate the impact of a 5p charge on a paper cup, coupled with prominent marketing of reusable cups, on customer behaviour. We will begin the trial in February and initially it will last for three months. All the money raised by the cup charge will be donated to environmental charity and behaviour change experts Hubbub, who will use the funds to run a comprehensive behaviour change study, helping us to understand how the public can be encouraged to choose reusable drink containers which are better for the environment.”