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A levy on disposable coffee cups isn’t the answer says environmental science lecturer, Dr Laurie Wright.

5th January 2018

“There's really no single solution to the issue. Coffee cups aren't easy to pack away or shove in a handbag like carrier bags are, therefore a limited fiscal incentive in isolation is unlikely to change behaviours of convenience.

A deposit-return scheme on a reusable cup may have some positive effect, however some cups will still enter the waste stream - especially where the consumer travels after purchasing the coffee. 


There are companies that manufacture recyclable cups, but uptake, especially among the larger players has been limited. Then there's the question issue of requiring common collection and processing facilitates for the waste cups.

Other solutions have included cardboard cups and edible cups, a novelty more than a solution.


In my opinion the best solution is to do as the Italians - you will rarely find a take-away cup in Italy.

Stop for a ‘una pausa’ (literally a pause), a few bites of pastry, neck your coffee, briefly pontificate on the state of the world today and be on your way.”

Dr Laurie Wright is a lecturer in environmental science at Southampton Solent University. His research and teaching expertise includes: life-cycle assessment; circular economies; industrial ecology; resource efficiency; carbon footprinting; sustainable development, and environmental law.