The ALMR has warned that the introduction of a “latte levy” on disposable cups will increase costs for operators and undermine investment without a guarantee of successfully addressing waste.
The ALMR has called on the government to avoid the introduction of such a measure and instead look to promote other schemes to address waste.
ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “Efforts to reduce waste are welcome and steps to tackle environmental damage are laudable, but the major concern here is that a ‘latte levy’ will simply increase costs for businesses without having any discernible effect in tackling the problem.
“Small and medium-sized businesses will be particularly vulnerable to cost increases and many of them will find it difficult to absorb this cost or even pass it onto customers as the cost of the cup is already factored into the price.
“Efforts by businesses to tackle the issue are recognised in the report and some of the ALMR’s members have begun loyalty schemes or provided discounts for customers using their own reusable cups. Steps such as these help address waste without increasing costs for businesses and actually save customers money. The sector is taking the issue seriously and the Paper Cup Recovery and Recycling Group’s annual report states that we now have over 4,000 recycling points from a standing start.”
Pret A Manager customers, for instance, can now earn a 50p discount on the price of hot drinks if they bring their own mug as the sandwich chain bids to reduce waste.
Nicholls said that it was unfair to compare the coffee cup situation to the charge on plastic bags because, unlike a trip to the supermarket, buying a coffee is usually an impulse purchase. She noted that waste generated by paper cups amounts to just 0.7% of the UK’s total packaging waste.
“Action taken at the other end of the chain, to improve recycling facilities, rather than deter purchases, might be a more effective option. Schemes to tackle waste are welcome, and businesses are ready to play their part, but an additional tax on businesses, one which will increase costs and potentially threaten jobs, is not the answer.”