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Coffee cup tax shot down by Defra

Defra has been forced to play down the suggestion that one of its ministers is considering a tax on disposable coffee cups.

During a debate in the House of Commons at the end of last week (March 17, 2016), resource minister Rory Stewart was asked what he is doing to tackle the problem of the 2.5 billion cups thrown away every year, the majority of which are not currently recycled.

His response created quite a stir. “The Government have tackled plastic bags – I hope everybody in the House would agree that the plastic bag tax has been a success – and coffee cups seem to be a very good thing to look at next.”

However, Stewart’s press team said there are “no plans” for a tax, and that his comments have been misunderstood.

Coffee cups were thrust into the spotlight last week thanks to Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall making them the next target in his “war on waste” campaign.

Disposable cups are generally composed of paper as well as a thin 5% polyethylene coating. Because the two layers are fused, separating the two materials is very difficult, which in turns makes recycling expensive.