VIEWPOINT: Martin Kersh on the 'Latte Levy'

VIEWPOINT: Martin Kersh on the 'Latte Levy'

Media feedback indicates the public response to a 25p #LatteLevy is not as enthusiastic as the Environmental Audit Committee report suggests. What is more, such a levy isn’t needed because the packaging industry is already making strong progress in increasing the recovery and recycling of paper cups. We believe our actions and proposals will deliver better results at lower cost without the need for legislation.

Paper cups have been singled out for special attention but contribute only 0.7% of total paper based weight. What’s needed is a total solution for increasing recycling on the go rather than targeting one type of packaging at a time. We are urging the Government to address this through a reform of the Packaging Note Recovery system* 

Over the past 12 months coffee shops and cup producers have made great progress in increasing the collection and recycling of paper cups. There are now almost 4,000 cup collection points throughout the UK and locations, with cup collection schemes at places such as offices and stadia, set to increase rapidly in 2018. The industry recently announced a ground-breaking scheme, which starts this month (January), in collaboration with ACE UK, the Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment. This will significantly increase the capacity for recycling paper cups and enable them to be collected alongside beverage cartons. Because this includes a post-back facility, everywhere in the UK now has the opportunity to return paper cups for recycling.  

The simple fact is that paper cups can and are being recycled now in the UK and paper cup recycling capacity is growing. Paper mill James Cropper has the capacity to recycle 20% of used cups in the UK – and there are at least three further facilities in the UK that are actively recycling paper cups. It’s critical to ensure cups get to these facilities and coffee shops have a key role to play in ensuring this. 

To capture cups on the street we need to create a new system for on-the-go waste management infrastructure, so you can recycle your coffee cup or take-away packaging whilst you are out and about. We believe this is best achieved, not through taxing the consumer, but by encouraging industry to pay more through reforming the current Packaging Note Recovery system. This reform will create a substantial fund for on-the-go recycling bins and the onwards management of those bins. It will also encourage best practice, as the easier the packaging is to recycle then the less those placing that packaging on the market pay. PRN reform can be achieved quickly, without the need for legislation and has the support of the whole supply chain. 

We are eager to see that the work currently been undertaken by the FPA and others is taken on board by Government departments because we need to ensure the continued success of the UK retail coffee sector.  The role of the high street has been described recently by Mary Portas as a social asset and coffee shops play a key part in this.  We want to see them continue to thrive, regenerating our high streets and creating even more employment.

For more information go to

* Packaging Note Recovery System – this is mechanism that already exists whereby manufacturers and suppliers pay a levy to recover and recycle and material they put on the market.

Martin Kersh can be reached on 07711 142789.

  • If you have a burning issue you’d like to share in our Viewpoint, please email Kate Oppenheim, editor of Coffee Business World:

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