Coffee cup and plastic bottle inquiry relaunched

The House of Commons’ environmental audit committee is relaunching an inquiry into plastic bottles and coffee cups.

The committee launched an inquiry into plastic bottles and coffee cups earlier this year during the last parliament, but the general election was called before it could complete its research.

Now the new committee has decided it should be relaunched and has asked for evidence to be submitted by September 29.

The inquiry will look at the environmental impact of coffee cups and plastic bottles, along with the challenges in recycling such products.

It will also examine what actions are being undertaken both by retailers and industry to reduce the amount of waste generated by these cups and plastic bottles and how effective have central and local government-led initiatives been at tackling the issue.

The committee will also consider what impact leaving the EU might have on British efforts to reduce waste.

The executive director of the British Coffee Association, Chris Stemman, welcomed the re-launching of the inquiry and told Environment Journal: ‘Whilst paper cups have, rightly, received significant attention it is important to remember that paper cup waste only makes up 0.7% of total UK paper packaging waste.

‘The UK coffee industry is committed to tackling this issue head on through approaches including new material technology that is fully recyclable and reusable, upscaling existing paper cup recycling schemes that have started to be made available whilst changing waste-stream processing capacity and capability.

‘Only through these approaches will the issue be solved in a fully long term sustainable manner and this is why we do not support the proposals to introduce a taxation for consumers as this does very little to solve the problem directly.’

A spokesperson from the campaigning group Friends of the Earth commented: ‘Where coffee cups are concerned, non-recyclable paper cups should just be banned outright so that consumers can go into a cafe and be given a cup that can be recycled.

‘We have seen the great environmental benefits that a small charge on single-use plastic carrier bags have made, so we support measures to help reduce disposable coffee cups and plastic bottle waste.

‘It’s certainly high time for it,’ added the spokesperson. ‘Mr Gove can be assured that the measures under consideration by this committee will be effective. They have proven successful elsewhere – we just need to get on and do it.’

In June, Environment Journal reported on a new scheme by Veolia, which aimed to collect the cups as soon as customers have finished their drink in a bid to increase recycling rates.

‘Since rolling out the service we have processed 6.5 million cups based on 65 tonnes at 10 grammes per cup,’ said a company spokesperson.

‘Additional cups have been collected and are currently undergoing sorting for processing. We look forward to seeing these figures rise as our new customers come online.’

Photo by rootseven

Jamie Hailstone

Jamie Hailstone

journalist

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