DEFRA blasted for wasteful catering purchases

TOKYO, JAPAN - MAY 20:  Specialty coffee shop Onibus Coffee cups are seen at the coffee shop on May 20, 2016 in Tokyo, Japan. With the rise of specialty coffee shops opening all over the world in recent years, Tokyo's coffee culture catches on to offer quality coffee to like minded people across all walks of life. (Photo by Christopher Jue/Getty Images)

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has come under fire after it was revealed today that it has purchased more than 2.5 million disposable coffee cups in the past five years.

516,000 disposable coffee cups were bought by DEFRA’s catering and facilities providers in the last year alone, for use in restaurants and cafés across the department’s offices.

The five-year total is the equivalent of almost 1,400 cups a day being thrown out, according to the Liberal Democrats, which uncovered the figures.

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The party said the figures showed Michael Gove “needs to get his own house in order,” after he vowed this week to tackle plastic pollution.

DEFRA’s catering contractors did not previously provide any reusable cups, but the Liberal Democrats said they purchased 200 reusable cups on the 31st October 2017, after the Department had received its Freedom of Information request.

Figures uncovered by the party have revealed the House of Commons is also failing to get to grips with coffee cup waste, having got through almost four million disposable cups in the past five years.

657,000 disposable cups were purchased by the Commons’ catering service in the last year alone, equivalent to 1,000 per MP.

500 reusable “Keep cups” were purchased in 2013, but only four of these have been sold in the last three years.

The Liberal Democrats are calling for the introduction of a charge on disposable coffee cups in the Budget, following the implementation of the party’s plastic bag charge which has reduced usage in England by 85% since it was introduced.

Liberal Democrat Environment Spokesperson Tim Farron commented: “It’s astounding that the department which is supposed to be protecting our environment is responsible for such a colossal amount of waste.

“Millions of plastic cups have been thrown away by the government, some of which will now be polluting our seas, rivers and countryside. Michael Gove needs to get his own house in order. A coffee cup charge should be introduced in the Budget to tackle waste and encourage the use of reusable cups, including in the civil service and Parliament.”

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