MPs are to investigate extending the idea of a deposit and refund scheme for plastic bottles to throwaway coffee cups.
The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) has announced a new inquiry that will specifically look at the waste and litter around the bottles and cups.
It comes after the Scottish Government has said it will introduce a deposit and refund scheme (DRS) for plastic bottles.
The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) has announced a new inquiry that will specifically look at the waste and litter around plastic bottles and paper cups
This would boost the number collected for recycling at the same time as tackling littering and the pollution of rivers and seas.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove has suggested the Westminster government could follow suit with the ‘great idea’.
MPs from all parties on the EAC will look at whether it would be include coffee cups in the scheme.
The problem with the cups is that they are made with a thin plastic coating which means they cannot be recycled along with other paper waste.
The net effects is that just one in 400 of the estimated 2.5billion cups issued by the major chains like Starbucks are being recycled. The rest are dumped or burned.
MPs will look at a number of methods to minimise the problem. These include including a deposit and refund scheme on the cups to ensure they are collected by shops and sent to specialist recycling plants, where the plastic coating can be removed.
Currently, only a tiny proportion of the 2.5billion coffee cups handed out across the UK every year are recycled
The Irish Parliament is currently considering going further and imposing an outright ban on the use of such cups.
The major coffee chains are under pressure to switch to cups that do not include a plastic coating. If they do make this switch, their cups would not carry a deposit charge.
The EAC first announced an inquiry into the issue of bottles and cups earlier this year, however this was killed off after the Government announced a general election in May.
The committee, which is chaired by Labour MP Mary Creagh, has now decided to relaunch its investigation.
It said: ‘The UK throws away approximately 2.5billion coffee cups every year, of which less than one in 400 are recycled.
‘In order to make coffee cups waterproof, the card shell is fused with polyethylene, a material that cannot be separated out again in standard UK recycling mills.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove, pictured this week at No 10, has praised the ‘great idea’
‘This coating makes both composting and recycling of paper cups uncommon as there are only two sites in the UK that have the capacity to separate the plastic film from the paper and allow it to be recovered and recycled into new paper products.’
Under the heading ‘Solutions’, the committee said it will look at ‘what initiatives could be introduced to reduce coffee cup and plastic bottle waste or to lessen the impact of this waste?’
Specifically, it said this will involve looking at ‘charges, taxes, deposits or levies on the use of these products’.
Greenpeace spokesman Louisa Casson, (correct) said: ‘It’s great news the Committee is taking the threat of plastic pollution so seriously.
‘Introducing deposit return schemes couldn’t be more of an open goal for governments.
‘Plastic pollution is a huge and growing issue. Deposit return schemes are a great way of reducing the plastic waste ending up on our streets, beaches and in the sea.’