|Image from Wikipedia|
The problem is often compared with the success of the 5p charge on supermarket carrier bags. But it's a very different problem. Not only is it very easy to carry an empty shopping bag, we are much less likely to go supermarket shopping on a whim. And the 5p bag is an optional charge - I can choose whether or not to buy a bag. I can take away my purchase without one. I often do with a small shop. Try taking away your coffee without a cup.
More to the point, the solution is simply economic madness. According to a Cardiff University study, applying a charge would result in 3.4% fewer disposable cups being used. Leaving aside that this is a pathetic percentage, we have to look at what is being done by imposing a tax. We would be replacing the cost of disposing of those 3.4% of cups responsibly - hard to see how that can amount to more than £2-3 million a year - with at tax on 100% of cups - which would cost the consumer over £600 million a year.
This is a classic case of greenwash, where being seen to do the right thing is considered more important that actually sorting things out. A coffee cup tax would not work, and parliament should be congratulated for spotting this. It would be far better if they made it easier to recycle coffee cups - helped, perhaps by encouraging the use of this kind of cup.
This has been a Green Heretic publication.