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Plastic Bag Levy One Year On, Now What About Coffee Cups?



A year has passed since the successful launch of the single-use plastic bag charge. Now, Friends of the Earth calls on the government, businesses and consumers to turn think about reducing other waste.

The popularity of the plastic bag charge also means that ministers should now extend the scheme to include convenience stores, says Friends of the Earth.

Andrew Pendleton, Friends of the Earth’s head of campaigns, said:

“The massive reduction in plastic bag use shows that just a small change in everyday habits can make a meaningful difference. Plastic waste is very good at finding its way into our waterways and countryside, so it’s been a boon for nature and wildlife too.

“Attention is now rightly turning to the estimated 2.5 billion non-recyclable coffee cups that end up in landfill every year, and other by-products of modern life like the completely oversized boxes and excess packaging that results from online shopping. The success of the bag charge shows that there is a huge appetite from consumers and forward-thinking businesses to radically reduce waste.

“By pushing for chains to offer a discount if people bring their own cup, consumers are rewarded, and waste is reduced. To that end, why can we not ban all coffee cups that can’t be recycled?”

Similar 5p charges on bags were already in place across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland before England finally introduced the charge. In Wales the charge was introduced in 2011, and a reduction in plastic bag consumption of 79% was realised in the first 3 years. It’s now time to look at what else can be done to change consumer behaviour, and help cut needless, harmful waste.