A recent trend, imported from America is coffee shops. Starbucks and the like, sell giant cups of a substance that is unhealthy. But a person’s decision to drink coffee and jeopardise their insulin resistance is not as far-reaching as their decision to buy coffee in plastic take away cups. Starbucks alone sells 4 billion single-use cups lined with a thin layer of polyethylene. That makes them impossible to recycle. So these single-use items threaten the world and marine wildlife with pollution. The UK throws away 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups every year. And sadly, the best our MPs can do is suggest a 25p levy on a latte.
The thin layer of 100% oil-based polyethylene plastic inside of a coffee cup, makes just 1% of them recyclable. For only three plants in the UK can manage the thin layer of plastic. And then animals eat the plastic when it breaks down into microplastic. So it ends up in our food chain.
MPs want single-use cups tackled by 2023, or threaten to ban them altogether. That’s after another 14 billion have been added to the pollution. It’s rather wishy-washy, unlike Kenya and Rwanda who have already implemented bans.
The UK’s solution to coffee cup pollution is to make the consumer pay a surcharge of 25p per cup. That is not going to stop pollution. Starbucks in a preemptive strike is experimenting with a 5p charge to customers. We should not put faith in the scheme or a company that boasts a recyclable product, which in practical terms cannot be recycled at all. And isn’t it enough that coffee is a potent drug and customers pay with their health?
Some coffee shops are giving a discount ranging from 25p – 50p if customers bring their cups. But pollution levels are evidence that there is not enough uptake. Perhaps, it needs more advertising but even so, Twitter users have pointed out that there are shops that make the coffee in a disposable cup then transfer it to the reusable one.
Britain’s Response Is Shallow
The UK response is shallow, and Europe has been more robust in their approach.
The Germany city of Freiburg has a reusable cup scheme since November 2016. Customers deposit €1 for the use of a cup, returnable to a participating store. The stores disinfect and reuse the cups up to 400 times. It’s a partial solution. And in Hamburg coffee pods and disposable packaging are banned. France, in 2016 passed laws to ban all disposable cups, cutlery and plates from 2020. So, manufacturers have to make all disposable items from at least 50% biologically-sourced materials that are compostable at home. I think it is only right that the sellers and manufacturers do more.
In Britain, surely we can do better than a half-baked #LatteLevy. So, why can’t our cities introduce a deposit system using stainless steel coffee carriers? Clean, efficient and recyclable after thousands of uses. It removes not just the cups but the dreadful plastic caps that cover them. The government, nor coffee shops have the appetite to make a real difference. That leaves you and me to carry our stainless steel coffee cups or petition the government to make it law.
Editorial Policy: Use quotations from this article subject to a full credit of the source and a direct link to the article on imjussayin.com