Around three quarters (74%) of consumers support the introduction of a levy of deposit scheme for single use cups. Support is highest in England (75%), compared to Scotland (72%) and Wales (68%).
Just 8% of the 2,137 adults polled by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) were opposed to schemes that encouraged people to either use refillable cups, or return disposable ones for recycling.
Last month, the Scottish government announced the formation of an expert group to “advise on the use of charges, similar to the successful plastic bag charge, with the goal of encouraging long-term and sustainable changes to consumer behaviour”.
“What we have in our sights is the coffee cup,” said Scotland’s environment secretary Roseanna Cunningham, at last week’s Resources Conference in Edinburgh. “We’re interested in a possible charge,” she explained. “Could that shift people towards ‘re-use’ as a way of life, in the same way as with carrier bags? And can measures such as these encourage companies to redesign their products so they’re less likely to end up as waste?”
The 5p charge on bags – which has “fundamentally changed people’s behaviour” – has set a precedent for “taking decisive action”, Cunningham said.
The Paper Cup Recovery and Recycling Group, set up in response to fierce criticism of poor recycling rates for single use cups, has said a levy isn’t the solution.
“The PCRRG believes that the concept of a proposed charge on paper cups cannot be compared like-for-like with the imposition of the carrier bag charge. A key reason for this is that the majority of coffee consumption out of the home is spontaneous.”
In an update published last month, the group also said the number of places where coffee drinkers can recycle their cups has rocketed from “very few” to more than 4,000 in the past 12 months.