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'Warm words' but Govt rejects 'latte levy' on cups

By Alan McGuinness, Political Reporter
The Government has been accused of failing to turn "warm words" on cutting waste into action, after failing to give its backing to calls for a "latte levy" on disposable coffee cups.
The measure was the headline recommendation from a cross-party committee of MPs, who said the money raised from the 25p charge could fund improved recycling facilities.Environment Secretary Michael Gove is on record as describing the levy as an "exciting idea", and he presented fellow ministers with reusable coffee cups made of bamboo when they met to discuss the Government's 25-year Environment Plan.However, in its official response to the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee report, the Government said only that a "latte levy" was "something we could consider amongst other policy options".
'Warm words' but Govt rejects 'latte levy' on cups

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Instead it praised coffee chains which offer money off drinks to customers who bring in their own reusable cups, adding it would like all drink vendors follow suit.A second key recommendation from the committee - that disposable cups be banned from 2023 unless the industry reaches a target of recycling 100% of those put in recycling bins - was also dismissed.At the moment, only one in 400 disposable coffee cups is recycled, despite 90% of customers putting them in recycling bins.This is because they are made with paper that is infused with polyethylene, which cannot be handled by standard recycling mills.
'Warm words' but Govt rejects 'latte levy' on cups

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Takeout cups placed in general paper recycling bins are therefore likely to end up in landfill, with some 2.5 billion cups dumped this way annually.The Government said the 100% recycling target was unrealistic, because some cups put into recycling bins will always be rejected due to contamination from the drink itself or other waste items.
Committee chair Mary Creagh accused ministers of failing to match previous "warm words" on reducing waste."The UK's throwaway culture is having a devastating impact on our streets, beaches and seas," she said.
'Warm words' but Govt rejects 'latte levy' on cups

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"Our report recommended practical solutions to the disposable packaging crisis. The Government's response shows that despite warm words they plan no real action."The Wakefield MP accused the Government of "ignoring the evidence" from the 5p charge on single-use plastic bags, which cut their use by 83% in the first year.A Government spokesperson said claims it was not taking strong enough action were false.They said: "Industry has a crucial role to play in making more products recyclable and we are working with them to reform our packaging waste regulations so producers are incentivised to take greater responsibility for the environmental impact of their products.
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"But it is wrong to say government is not taking decisive action - we have set out our commitment to the environment in our 25 year plan, published in January, and we are looking at further ways to reduce avoidable waste and recycle more as part of our resources and waste strategy.":: Sky's Ocean Rescue campaign encourages people to reduce their single-use plastics. You can find out more about the campaign and how to get involved at www.skyoceanrescue.com
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