Are ministers clutching at straws when it comes to re-usable coffee cups?

By: Clare Fischer
Date posted: 17 January 2018

Government ministers have been spotted leaving a Cabinet meeting clutching reusable coffee cups - although some were still in their boxes.

© Natasha Ewins

Last year, a YouGov survey for MCS revealed that 74% - that’s almost three out of four people questioned across the UK - would support a charge on single use coffee cups.

They were given the cups by the Environment Secretary, Michael Gove who last week was seen strolling into Downing Street with a “keep cup”, having previously been photographed holding a disposable coffee cup.

Immigration minister, Caroline Noakes, tweeted: My Cabinet colleague @michaelgove has been very generous today, giving us all a bamboo coffee cup helping to cut waste

A spokesman for the Prime Minister said ‘Each member of the cabinet was given a reusable coffee cup at the end of the meeting.’

There’s growing pressure to tackle the 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups the UK gets through every year, with almost all of them incinerated, exported or sent to landfill because their plastic lining makes them costly to recycle.

In the last five years, the MCS Beachwatch beach clean and survey programme has seen an increase of 93% in coffee cups found on UK beaches.

MPs on the Environmental Audit Committee have called for a 25p “latte levy” on the disposable cups, on top of the price of a hot drink, with the revenue used to pay for improved recycling facilities.

Last year, a YouGov survey for MCS revealed that 74% - that’s almost three out of four people questioned across the UK - would support a charge on single use coffee cups.

The poll asked people if they would support paying a deposit on disposable coffee cups to encourage the use of refillable cups or cups being returned for recycling. Only 8% of responders opposed such charges.

70% of people surveyed also supported a ban on the use of polystyrene food containers and cups, with most support coming from those aged 55 or over.

Having made the switch, ministers will be able to benefit from voluntary efforts by some coffee shop chains to give customers money off for using reusable cups, with Pret A Manger recently doubling its discount to 50p.

However a recent freedom of information request revealed the Environment Department (Defra) and the House of Commons had each got through millions of disposable cups in the past few years.

It now seems a decision has been made to lead by example from the top.

Make the switch today and get your own MCS reusable keepCup here.

MCS is currently calling on UK governments to put a charge on single-use plastic throwaway items and demanding that big fast food chains stop giving out millions of plastic cups, stirrers, straws and cutlery but instead replace them with reusable or fully compostable alternatives.

Actions you can take

  1. Download the Great British Beach Clean Report 2017
  2. Help us stop the plastic tide

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On UK beaches levels of litter have doubled in the past 20 years

Litter has increased by 135% since 1994, with plastics increasing by a staggering 180%

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