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Coffee Cup Inquiry Relaunched

The UK Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) is relaunching an inquiry into the impact of disposable coffee cups and plastic bottles on the environment.

The previous committee’s inquiry, which was launched in April of this year, received over 100 submissions of evidence but was halted as a result of the General Election.

The Committee will be accepting written submissions from those who did not submit earlier in the year, or who wish to update their evidence in the light of subsequent events.

Only 57 per cent of all plastic bottles are recycled in the UK, and we throw away approximately 2.5 billion coffee cups every year, of which less than 1 in 400 are recycled.

The news of a relaunched inquiry follows the announcement earlier this month that the Scottish government is to introduce a deposit return scheme (DRS) for drinks containers at some point in the future. DRS systems exist in many countries in Europe, including Germany, Norway and Sweden. Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, has said a DRS would be a “great idea”, but said that it is important to make sure it would work properly before guaranteeing its implementation.

The EAC is asking for submissions to address the following points:


What is the environmental impact of waste from coffee cups and plastic bottles? Are the rates of use, collection levels and recycling levels of these products increasing or decreasing over time?

What are the challenges of recycling these products? What obstacles have prevented greater progress in increasing recycling rates?


Are consumers aware of the complexities of recycling these products? How could we increase awareness amongst the public and what impact would this have?

What actions are being undertaken by retailers and industry to reduce waste generated by coffee cups and plastic bottles? How effective have these initiatives been? How could the Government better support these initiatives?

How effective, to date, have Government and local government led initiatives (such as #1MoreShot) been at reducing waste and increasing the recycling of coffee cups and plastic bottles? What progress has been made to develop a viable, recyclable alternative to the polyethylene coated paper cup?What are the pros and cons of the use of such cups?

What is the likely impact of leaving the EU on UK efforts to reduce coffee cup and plastic bottle waste?


Incentives to encourage the use of re-usable alternatives for these products.

Charge, taxes, deposits or levies on the use of these products.

How can we encourage households, businesses, food and drink outlets, and offices to change behaviours or introduce policies to reduce their coffee cup and plastic bottle waste?

How are other countries working to reduce coffee cup and plastic bottle waste? What examples of best practice are there that the UK could learn from?

Companies who handle packaging in the UK are subject to the Packaging Regulations. We work with these businesses, helping them to reduce their impact on the environment and ensuring they comply with current regulations. Contact our team on 0845 129 7177 to find out how we can help your business comply for less.

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