The latte levy: fighting single-use plastic cups

This blog was written by our friends at GlobalWAKEcup.

You may have heard the term latte levy and wondered what it means- we explain what it’s all about and why it’s such a hot topic.

As a nation of tea and coffee lovers, it comes as no surprise that the average Brit spends £2,210 in coffee shops every year. Unfortunately, this coffee obsession has had some serious consequences for our planet and the numbers soon add up. For example, did you know, every year it is estimated that 2.1 billion single-use coffee cups end up in landfills throughout the UK?

It is imperative that we continue to find ways to improve our day-to-day behaviour, which is why this year, charities and MPs have been calling for an introduction of a “latte levy” in takeaway coffee shops, which could be a landmark initiative for our oceans.

So what is a “latte levy” and how will it save our oceans?

As awareness increases surrounding reusability, sustainability, recycling and our use of plastic, more people are ‘waking up and smelling the coffee’! It’s no joke that our over-reliance on single-use plastic cups is damaging the planet and particularly our marine environments.

The “latte levy” was put forward to the government following a report released back in January by the Environmental Audit Committee.

It is suggested that a 25p “latte levy” will further encourage customers to find alternatives to the single-use plastic cups currently offered by coffee shops. This would be combined with a target to see the removal of single-use cups altogether from stores by 2023.

When you hear it like this you wonder why we ever started using single-use cups at all, right?

Can’t I just recycle the cup?

A common misconception is that single-use coffee cups are recyclable.

Most people in this day and age will go to extra lengths to seek out recycling bins for their cups and yet it could all be in vain! This is due to the complex nature in which the cups are manufactured to keep the heat in, combining paper and plastic components.

In fact, there are only three facilities in the whole of the UK which are capable of fully splitting the paper and plastic that make up these cups, resulting in a rough estimate of only 0.25% cups recycled. But it’s only 25p, right? That won’t make a difference.


Levies work.

We have proof in the UK. The introduction of a 5p charge for plastic bags started a transition, which now sees most people come prepared for their grocery shop with a range of bags for life.

Only last month Prime Minister Theresa May indicated that she was preparing to increase the charge to 10p per bag and we predict that many stores will look to phase out plastic bags within the next 12 months, just as their counterparts in Australia and New Zealand have done.

Why hasn’t the same thing been adopted for coffee cups? Just like plastic bags, these cups are hugely damaging for our oceans.

Not only do these types of plastics take hundreds of years to actually breakdown, but really and truly they are not breaking down fully at all! They are producing ‘microplastics’ that are easily consumed by fish and marine mammals via their food, water and chemicals in their environment which of course can then enter the human food chain.

Food for thought indeed…

Whilst the environment is the central focus for our plight, we at GlobalWAKEcup have a mission to heal our planet and save you money too. We’ve done the maths.

Through testing and re-testing our high quality products, we can estimate that our customers will get 1,095 uses out of their WAKEcup which gives you a coffee every day, for 3 years. This means purchasing a reusable cup, could save you £500+ over its lifetime when compared to a single-use coffee cup - based on a saving of 50p per cup.

Benefits of buying sustainable products

The real benefit of buying greener and more sustainable products is that we are starting the healing process for our planet after decades of damage. When we choose reusable, the number of cups going to landfill drops dramatically, these products last longer, save us money and can be widely recycled.

Not to mention, when you buy from businesses who have a focus and ethos for saving the planet, you’re helping a wider cause.

In the case of GlobalWAKEcup, we contribute 10% of our profits to the Marine Conservation Society, because we really are passionate about our oceans.