What is the 'Latte Levy'?

Billions of single use cups end up in landfill globally each year with the UK contributing around 450,000 to this figure. What many consumers weren't aware of until recently is their daily cups of coffee have a polyethylene lining which requires a special separation process which most recycling mills don't provide. The UK government are calling for a mandatory 25p surcharge, ‘Levy’, for customers that don’t use a reusable cup.

Currently large chains like Starbucks, Costa, Café Nero and Pret have enticed customers with discounts on their beverage when they bring their own reusable cups with them in lieu of this surcharge. Discounts range between 25p (most high street chains) up to 50p (Pret).

It’s not just the large chains providing their customers with a discount, independent coffee shops we all know and love are also getting in on the initiative. BYO Coffee Cup delivers a simple service via their website which provides a map of local businesses that offer discounts to customers who say no to single use and bring their own reusable cup.

Starbucks are the only company so far to initiate a 5p surcharge (in 30 of their stores) to any order where the customer requires a single use cup, but this hasn’t really aided in deterring customers to ditch the cardboard and invest in a reusable cup.

There have been reports via social media of some instances where coffee chains have made the customer's drinks in a single use cup before tipping it into the reusable cup and then disposing of the single use cup!

A study by Cardiff University Professor Wouter Poortinga (2016) suggests that charging for cups may be a more effective way of changing consumer behaviour than discounts.

We think a hybrid approach would be better, charge those for using single use cups and reward those who make the conscious effort to bring their reusable one. This means the more you use your Polū Bamboo Fibre Coffee Cup the more you save.

Over time your Polū cup will pay for itself!