Did you know? Disposable cups are never recycled.
Contrary to popular belief, placing them in the recycling bin doesn’t guarantee they’ll be re-used. Disposable cups are made for the most part of cardboard, yes, but they also have a significant amount of plastic to ensure the cup won’t get soggy. This comes in handy when drinking a very hot latte, but also makes it impossible for the cups to be recycled.
In the UK, there are talks of a 10% tax on disposable cups.
This way, more people would be persuaded to use recyclable cups. Starbucks UK already offers a 25 pence discount for customers who use recyclable cups, which is less than 2% of coffee drinkers. This possibility has not been well-received by other companies. Many are against the possible “latte levy” because they think it will hurt their business, as customers might be scared by the rise in price and deterred from consuming coffee or tea in cafés at all.
The government, on its part, can cite the successful introduction of a 5 pence charge on plastic bags in supermarkets back in 2015, which reduced their use by more than 80%.
The latte levy is only a suggestion for now, but the case for it is made stronger by other developments in Europe. Italy has recently banned the use of plastic bags grocery stores, requiring biodegradable ones instead.
Gone are the old plastic bags for fruit and vegetables – all customers must now use recyclable bags provided specifically by the stores, and they must pay for them. It’s strictly forbidden to reuse the bags or to bring your own from home. They must be picked up in the store and used on the spot, and each bag appears on the receipt as an item we’re buying. The cost of the bio bag goes from 0.2 to 0.5 cents, so the tax will likely only result in 15€ a year for an average family, but supermarkets used to give the plastic bags for free. However, these bio bags can be reused as containers for organic waste, that every household spends much more on than 15€, so that is a window for saving.
Recycling is important.
Governments may tax items if they see fit, but the change also needs to start with us. In my country, where you face enormous fines for not recycling, most people don’t care and mix their garbage bins and randomly put plastic and organic together anyway.
Be better than that.
Drink your hot beverages from recyclable cups. Use eco-friendly bags for your groceries. If all of us participated in a little bit of grassroots environmentalism, we wouldn’t have to worry about new taxes at all.
We have all the tools to fix the problem of waste excess ourselves, if only we cared.
There are hundreds of little things that we can all do in our daily lives that would help the planet.
First rule of the philosophy of environmentalism is everything can be reused before you throw it away. If this article has taught you anything, it is to drink your hot beverages from non-disposable cups, but if you must use the seemingly-cardboard cup before you throw it in the general waste (again, if you put it in cardboard it will only contaminate the waste), you can wash it and use it as a cute pen holder, especially when Starbucks comes up with such nice motives and patterns. Or you can collect them and turn it into a huge competition over who decorates them better and keep them on proud display without throwing them away for years.
You can even reuse them for when you brew your hot tea yourself instead of buying new ones for home.
Be mindful of every waste and where you put it.
We’ve only got one Earth and already too much garbage that we can’t dispose of.