latte levy

Majority of Irish people don't support a ban on recyclable coffee cups, survey finds

A so-called latte levy is being considered by the Government.

ALMOST TWO-THIRDS of Irish people are against a ban on recyclable and compostable coffee cups, a new survey has found. 

The survey, conducted by Ireland Thinks on behalf of the Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI), found that Irish people would prefer to see the Government focus on improving recycling and composting facilities rather than an outright ban.

The polling surveyed 1,211 Irish adults for their views on the Government’s proposed measures, which could prospectively introduce either an outright ban, or a levy of anywhere between 20c and €1, on a number of single-use items used in food and beverage retails.

The RAI has long been outspoken on the introduction of any such “latte levy” and has been vocal in their opposition to it going as far back as 2019. 

Paper-based coffee cups have been identified as one of the first targets for such measures.

However, 63% of respondents felt that the latte levy ban should exclude cups certified as recyclable or compostable. This rose to 72% of respondents aged between 35 and 44-years-old.

When excluding the 11% of respondents who selected ‘don’t know’, 70% of people across all age groups felt that paper-based cups should not be subject to these measures.

The levy, proposed in the Circular Economy Bill, has been tabled by Minister Ossian Smyth who has said the intention is to encourage customers to switch to reusable items, with the eventual intent of an outright ban on coffee cups and other single use items.

Chief Executive of RAI Adrian Cummins said: “There are around 15,000 employees in the coffee-related hospitality sector in Ireland, and the vast majority of coffee shop business is takeaway trade.

“These to-go outlets, often small, family-run businesses will have to shoulder the burden of the levy and prospective ban on cups. It’s clear from these survey results that consumers don’t have much of an appetite for such a ban, and would rather see the Government focus on improving recycling capacity.

“This is a measure that the restaurant industry would be 100% on board with – we all recognise that Ireland must do more to reduce its plastics use and littering levels, but banning compostable and recyclable paper-based cups in favour of hard plastic cups isn’t the way to go about it. The market will be driven towards cheap and low-quality items made entirely of hard plastics, with limited reuse potential.”

Small Businesses

Smaller businesses will be hit hardest by the levy, according to the RAI.

John Bradbury operates bakeries and delis in Kildare and said that his business decided to purchase compostable cups for an additional cost as it was “the right thing to do”. He added that theis new proposed levy is another setback for his industry.

“Over the past ten years, Bradbury’s alongside most of the industry has been changing over to compostable paper-based products, at a high cost for business. It costs significantly more to use a fully compostable cup, liner and lid, but we do this voluntarily because it’s the right thing to do and because I want to leave the planet a better place for my children and grandchildren.”

“The industry has had so many setbacks between the pandemic, Brexit and the Ukrainian conflict, and now the Government wants to tax a product that we have worked so hard to source sustainably. It’s demoralising. Why am I spending an extra €40 – 50,000 per year to source compostable packaging that will now be taxed? I could order very cheap plastic cups from China for a fraction of the price, and believe me, business owners will do this because they can’t afford yet another hit,” he added.

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