Starbucks to institute a paper cup 'tax' in the UK

Starbucks is adding a new fee to the cost of its coffee in the United Kingdom — but only if you use a paper cup.

The ubiquitous coffee company announced a trial run of a 5-pence-per-paper-cup charge in about 25 London locations as a way to “encourage and support” the use of environmentally-friendly multiple-use cups.

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Citing “growing concern” about the cost and wastefulness of paper cups, which — despite what many consumers may believe, are not so easy to recycle due to the inner plastic lining — Starbucks said it will study the impact of the new surcharge closely to determine next steps.

Starbucks says it's trying to encourage customers to use reusable cups with its new 5-pence-per-paper-cup tax.

Starbucks says it's trying to encourage customers to use reusable cups with its new 5-pence-per-paper-cup tax. (AP)

“All the money raised by the cup charge will be donated to environmental charity and behavior change experts, Hubbub, who will use the funds to run a comprehensive behavior change study, helping us to understand how the public can be encouraged to choose reusable drink containers which are better for the environment,” the coffee giant said.

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The announcement comes a few days after British officials debated whether to begin charging a 25-pence “latte levy” on all disposable cups sold in Great Britain to cut down on waste and potentially ban them if certain recycling targets aren’t met.

Starbucks, which operates 345 locations in the U.K. ─ out of about 27,000 locations worldwide ─ also said it will "redouble" efforts to ensure that drink-in coffee lovers are offered a ceramic cup.

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“The U.K. throws away 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups every year; enough to circle the planet five and a half times,” British MP Mary Creagh said, reports Reuters.