Countries, states, and cities are taking steps to incentivize reusable cup usage by taxing or banning disposable cups in coffee shops, and take out food locations. In Germany, Ireland, Scotland, and the rest of England there is a movement afoot towards taxes on disposable cups, or a “latte levy”. By 2030 the entire European Union will be banning single use plastics and coffee cups in an effort to fight pollution.
In January 2019 Berkeley, CA passed an ordinance that requires all restaurant take out foodware to be compostable and requires businesses to charge an extra $0.25 for disposable cups. One Berkeley Councilwoman explained that "Recycling is no longer a solution – if we want to save the planet, it’s time to reduce, reuse and compost."
Recently, San Francisco decided to do the same thing. On their own accord, some Bay Area coffee shops started to completely get rid of disposable cups, forcing their customers to bring their own reusable cup. San Francisco legislation has proposed these taxes and it is believed that they will be implemented in the new year. Palo Alto, CA is also looking to jump on the bandwagon.
The general trend is to start charging the consumer roughly $0.25 per cup if it is not served in a reusable or compostable cup. We’ve discussed why compostable cups are not the answer. Using compostable cups simply replaces one issue with another. To truly solve the problem, we need to shift to a reuse culture facilitated by a circular economy.
The West Coast is setting a great example for all of us over here on the East Coast. While we’re lamenting Dunkin’ phasing out their styrofoam cups, the West Coast is redefining to-go. What can we do to catch up?
As the Massachusetts plastic bag ban moves through the State House, there are whispers in the air that a disposable cup tax is coming... Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, Brookline - are you going to beat the State to that?