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Government urged to act on coffee cups

Friends of the Earth has marked the one year anniversary of the 5p plastic bag charge coming into force by calling for new government action on non-recyclable coffee cups.

It said the success of the plastic bag charge showed a huge appetite among the public and forward-thinking businesses to radically reduce waste and called on the government to push for coffee shops and other fast food chains to offer a discount to people who bring their own cup.

Friends of the Earth said an estimated 2.5bn non-recyclable coffee cups end up in landfill every year, although recent estimates suggest the figure could be as high as 5bn. Only a small fraction of the cups – about one in 400 – are currently being recycled.

“The massive reduction in plastic bag use shows that just a small change in everyday habits can make a meaningful difference,” said Andrew Pendleton, Friends of the Earth’s head of campaigns. “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.”

The charity has also called for the 5p plastic bag charge to be extended to convenience stores, which are currently exempt from the scheme.