MPs' 25p 'latte levy' proves successful as disposable waste in Westminster plummets

Written by John Johnston and Alain Tolhurst on 16 August 2019 in Diary
Diary

Westminster's war on waste has resulted in an almost 75% drop in the use of disposable cups as MPs, peers and staff shift to reusable alternatives.

According to new data provided to Green MP Caroline Lucas, sales of disposable cups have plummeted from an average of 58,000 per month to just 15,000 since the surcharge was introduced, despite an significant increase in hot beverage sales.

Commons chiefs had introduced the 25p levy on disposable coffee cups in late 2018 as part of "pioneering changes" aimed at reducing the colossal amount of waste generated by Parliament.

Speaking on behalf of the House of Commons Commission, Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake, said: "In the nine months to September 2018, before the 25p surcharge... sales for hot beverages was £655,640... In the ninth months to date, after the surcharge... sales were £727,203.

He added: "There has been a reduction from 58,000 paper cups per month being sold to 15,000 on average."

The clampdown, which came amid growing concern about the impact of plastic waste on the world's oceans, also included the removal of single use condiment sachets from Commons cafes and a ban on the sale of plastic water bottles.

MPs had committed to lead the way on reducing waste in Westminster after a 2018 report found the UK threw away an estimate 2.5 billion disposable cups every year - enough to circle the planet five and a half times.

Announcing the plans, Commons Administration Commitee chair Sir Paul Beresford said: "The measures we are introducing are ambitious and wide ranging, covering not just coffee cups but an array from plastic bottles and straws to condiment sachets and stationary."

The Tory MP added: "Our aim is to remove, as far as possible, disposable plastic items from the Parliamentary Estate.

"Our challenging targets reflect Parliament's committment to leading the way in environmental sustainability."

The scheme's success is likely to empower ministers who have previously mulled rolling out the levy across the UK in a bid to curb the use of throwaway plastics.

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