To say that coffee keeps the world spinning is not an inaccurate statement. Every day, over 2,250,000,000 cups of java are consumed worldwide. Sadly, many consumers receive their coffee in disposable cups which are used once then discarded. After being transported to landfills, they slowly decompose and leach contaminants into the environment. Because this is a detriment to the planet, all wildlife, and future generations, a 25p levy on paper cups has been proposed in the UK.
As the BBC reports, MPs are in support of a paper cup ban by 2023. Because the coffee chain Starbucks supports this move, it has agreed to try out a 5p cup charge in at least twenty of its outlets in London. “We will begin the trial in February and initially it will last for three months,” the company said in a press release. It added that it will continue to offer a 25p discount to customers who bring their own reusable cups.
The company explained that when it opened its first store in the UK 20 years ago, opportunities to encourage recycling were explored. “We were first with the reusable cup incentive which we implemented in 1998 at 10p before upping it to 25p in 2008,” said the firm. “In 2016, as a way to heighten awareness and to promote reusability we extended the cup discount to 50p for a few months. We found that this did not move the needle in the way we thought it might. We now have 1.8% of our customers using reusable cups.”
Because former initiatives did not work, Starbucks agreed to begin charging for throwaway cups. The trial run will last three months. After that, the company will “share our findings with any interested parties before taking a view on next steps.”
The news is being applauded by parliament members and environmental advocates around the world. This is because in the UK alone, 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups are thrown away each year. As the committees chair, Mary Creagh MP, pointed out, that’s enough to circle the planet five and a half times.
“Almost none are recycled and half a million a day are littered. Coffee cup producers and distributors have not taken action to rectify this and government has sat on its hands,” Creagh said. “The UK’s coffee shop market is expanding rapidly, so we need to kick start a revolution in recycling.”
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