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25p plastic cup tax move causes carry-out coffee stir

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By Amanda Kennedy and Joseph Gartly
Annan and Eskdale
25p plastic cup tax move causes carry-out coffee stir

A TASTY coffee from your local cafe could soon be hiked up 25 pence in price, if a proposed new tax comes into force.

Dubbed the ‘latte levy,’ MPs are calling for a 25 pence charge on takeaway coffee in a move that could see disposable cups banned in five years time.

The UK produces 30,000 tonnes of coffee cup waste each year, according to a report published by MPs on the environmental audit committee on last week.

coffee just be *** Local Caption *** LATTE LEVY . . . Vikki Kerr with some of the disposable coffee cups at Just Be
LATTE LEVY . . . Vikki Kerr with some of the disposable coffee cups at Just Be

But the proposal has caused a stir with cafe owners up and down the country, including Jim Main from Lockerbie’s Just Be.

He said: “The way I see it is there are four main issues here – the environmental impact, littering, cost to the businesses and cost to the consumer.

“For the first and second issues it’s a bit of a no-brainer, this disposable world we live in is paying a huge cost in resources to make these items in the rst place and there will be a fraction of these which ac- tually end up in recycling, too many are discarded out of car windows or in gutters.

“So from these aspects, yes, bring in a charge to discour- age use but use that money to provide proper bins on streets where they can be dropped in and used for recycling rather than ending up in a land ll.”

But speaking from a business perspective, he added: “On a coffee which costs £2.50 — 42 pence of that already goes to the government as VAT, the take- away cups vary but are around 15 pence each so the business is left with around £1.93 to cover all the other costs of the business; staff, energy, building, rates, ingredients, bin collections and a new one this month auto enrolment pensions for all staff.

“Hopefully people can see that there is no way a business can absorb another 25p tax on the cup and would therefore have to pass this onto the purchaser.

“Many customers will baulk at this extra levy and the net result is they will stop buying the drinks, ultimately meaning businesses will lose out.”

He added: “I’m not sure how the money collected by this levy is going to be ring-fenced for a good purpose, my guess is that most of it will just go as yet another stealth tax and a token gesture will be made with the balance.”

Meanwhile, Just Be say they are already looking at ideas to tackle the takeaway cup dilemma, in a way that will be a win-win for for both business and environment.

And in Annan, this week cafe proprietors George Aitken, from The Lounge, and John Pagani, from the Cafe Royal, expressed their views on the proposed tax.

Mr Aitken said: “I think instead of increasing cost and impacting on small businesses they should be targeting the cup manufacturers.

“The manufacturers should be encouraged to make compostable cups across the board which should through scale have the effect of reducing the cost.

“For example, the cost of a plastic one might now be around 10p, while a compostable might be higher. Produce more and sell more compostable cups and the price of compostable should come down.

“What I do not understand with the current proposals is who charges the 25p and who who gets the 25p”?

WRONG IDEA . . . George Aitken believes that bigger businesses should be the focus of the tax
CONCERNED . . . George Aitken believes compostable cups should be norm

He added: “In the end it could possibly affect the volume of sales.”

However, Mr Pagani has a different view and said: “We have been using environmentally friendly packaging, made from sugar cane, at our expense and have got rid of polystyrene packaging for nearly ve years now.

“As a business progresses you become more environmentally aware.

“I don’t think an extra 25p will impact us greatly, if someone wants a coffee I think they will pay it.

“Another thing is if someone comes in with a travel cup we will clean that out and put the coffee in there.

“In the future it might change people’s behaviours, but we will do our best to accommodate our customers as much as we can.”

Currently the Cafe Royal use cups from Packaging Environmental, which all get assessed for their impact on the environment and are a leading supplier of biodegradable, compostable and recycled food and drinks packaging.

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