Resource minister Rory Stewart has pledged to act on the recycling of disposable coffee cups, following recent concern.
Labour MP Rob Marris asked the Government to look at ”the problem” of plastic-lined coffee cups not being recycled, with an estimated 2.5 billion items sent to landfill each year.
The issue has garnered mainstream attention, including a Daily Mail front page, after TV chef Hugh Fearnley-Wittingstall accused major coffee firms Costa Coffee and Starbucks of having misleading messages about waste on their websites.
Recycling firm Simply Cups said cafés had been under the misapprehension that used paper cups would be recycled when placed into a commingled recycling stream.
Now Stewart (pictured) has described it as a “huge problem” at a Defra Q&A in the House of Commons.
He said: “Having tackled plastic bags – and I hope everyone in the House would agree that the plastic bag tax has been a success – coffee cups seems to be a very good thing to look at next.”
Meanwhile, the Recycling Association has criticised the Mail’s coverage for connecting the issue to the UK’s overall recycling performance.
It took particular aim at the newspaper’s article headlined ’Britain’s rubbish at recycling: The billions of coffee cups being dumped every year symbolise the UK’s wasteful ways’.
Chief executive Simon Ellin said: “Paper coffee cups account for less than 0.00005% by weight of the UK’s total waste production, so although ideally we should be recovering more, the impact on the environment per se is negligible.
“To then relate this to UK recycling performance generally is a cheap shot and is counterproductive. I would argue that misrepresenting information like this has a far more negative impact on the environment than does the paper cup problem because it disengages the public when it comes to recycling.”
Paper recycler Mark Lyndon UK’s managing director Paul Briggs also called on the newspaper “to report all the positive messages too” to engage the public.