So-called Latte levy could be up to 25 cents on every disposable cup

The government is set to bring in a so-called “latte levy” in a bid to reduce the 200 million disposable coffee cups discarded each year.

A small charge – expected to be between 10 and 25 cent – on each disposable cup, is due to come into force in the next two or three years. It is estimated that a 10 cent levy would raise €20 million per year based on current usage levels.

The government’s new waste reduction strategy states that cold drinks cups will be banned at large scale licensed events such as concerts. The eventual aim is to ban all disposable hot and cold drinks cups.

Senator Robbie Gallagher assures the new waste reduction plan will include support for the food sector and others to adapt.

“Cafés, garage forecourts and convenience shops are going to get some of the 'latte levy' to help them cover the cost of adapting to new rules. Disposable cups for customers will become a thing of the past for those who consume drinks on the premises and there will be an obligation to give price reductions to people using reusable cups,” said Senator Gallagher.

He acknowledges that in many cases retailers and consumers have been doing this voluntarily already and local towns such as Carrickmacross and Monaghan have already had schemes organised through Tidy Towns groups and the Environment Section of the council.

"The aim of this levy is to make it easier for the cafes and other retailers to provide an alternative that results in less throwaway, less single use plastic,” said Senator Gallagher.

Vending machines

“Reverse vending for plastics is also on the way with a levy on plastic drinks bottles and aluminium drinks cans in 2022, which consumers will be able to reclaim using vending machines. Carrickmacross has already piloted reverse vending for plastic bottles to great success and public buy-in,” said Senator Gallagher.

“The EU ban on single disposable plastic items, such as plastic cotton bud sticks, plastic cutlery and plastic straws is imminent and there are also going to be new rules to encourage construction firms to reuse more of their building waste. Builders will be able to reuse much of the five million tons of stone and soil dumped annually by the sector. This should ultimately save money by not having to dispose or having to separate out materials,” he said.

Stunning amount of waste

He noted that this week it emerged that Monaghan households generate enough single-use plastic waste to fill 80 Olympic swimming pools each year.

“3,700 tonnes of this waste is produced in the county every year according to the organisation CUSP (Cease Using Single-Use Plastics), who are trying to see this reduced. Of the towns in the county Monaghan Town scores highest with 463 tonnes annually, followed by Carrickmacross on 303, and Clones on 101. It’s a stunning amount of waste and there is no doubt that measures are needed to reduce it.”