Latte levy: Is the coffee industry better placed to make an impact?
If you’ve been following the news over the past week or so, you may have come across the ‘latte levy’.
Nicknamed by social media, the ‘latte levy’ referrers to proposed new government legislation aimed at reducing our reliance on disposable coffee cups. In a move similar to the 5p plastic bag levy of 2015, MPs are calling for a 25p tax on all cups – payable by the consumer.
Disposable coffee cups are a real problem; with as little as 1% of some 2.5bn cups being recycled each year. The combination of outer cardboard and an inner plastic lining makes cups very difficult to recycle and the majority end up incinerated or in landfill. The latte levy seeks to combat this by encouraging us to use a reusable cup.
While this move is certainly well-intended, we can’t help wondering why the government is targeting consumers over the wider industry. Sure, the tax will remind us to carry a reusable keep cup (which is great!), but it will do little in the long run to prevent the growing numbers of non-recyclable coffee cups produced each year.
As our friends over at Vegware have pointed out, the most effective change would be to place responsibility on the companies who serve our coffee. This way, we could seek to bypass disposable cups altogether and switch to eco-friendly alternatives.
Industry-driven change would not only take the burden from the everyday customer, but it would also effectively stem the flow of non-recyclable cups in the long term by supporting renewable alternatives. This change would help to create a meaningful reduction in the carbon footprint of both coffee brands and consumers alike.
Compostable materials enable us to eradicate non-recyclable packaging all together – solving the problem at the source rather than leaving it up to the consumer to take action.
At The Barista, we’ve been using Vegware cups and packaging for the past 7 years. Vegware is made from plant-based materials and is completely compostable.
As coffee suppliers (and coffee lovers) we take our carbon footprint incredibly serious, not least because of climate change’s effect on coffee bean production across the globe (find out more about this issue in our blog ‘How is climate change impacting coffee’).
And in instances where it’s not possible to use Vegware (when specific branded cups have been requested), we counter our cup usage by donating to The Green Earth Appeal. They plant hundreds of new trees per year on our behalf.
Taking responsibility for our carbon footprint – latte levy or no latte levy – has always been a part of what we do. And this approach is not just for us, but for the peace of mind of our clients too. The Barista’s Sales Director, Sam Fletcher, explains more:
‘From day one, our approach has been built on a philosophy of sustainability; sustainable resources, sustainable relationships and sustainable business. We work in a fast-paced industry and although we’re working with business clients, we have a direct impact on the consumer waste generated at every event we attend.
‘The consumers of our drinks at conferences and exhibitions are busy and may have limited recycling opportunities available to them. We consider it our responsibility to limit our carbon footprint, not only as a by-product of our own operation but on behalf of our clients and the end consumers as well. This means we win, our clients win, the consumers win and, most importantly, the planet does too!
‘The response we get from clients is always very positive. We’re proud of our choice to use recycled and fully compostable cups and our clients often share in this ethos. It’s fantastic to be able to reassure anyone who asks that we are doing everything we can to limit our carbon footprint on their behalf.’