Caring for the environment on your doorstep.
Search icon
Main Menu

Renewed call to introduce a surcharge on single-use cups

Sign our urgent #CupCharge petition


Every year, around 5 billion single-use paper cups are used in the UK’s coffee shops and takeaways. The vast majority contain a plastic lining which is tightly bonded to the paper, making the cup waterproof and able to hold liquid. 

Only 4% of these cups are captured for recycling with the remainder ending up in landfill, waste incinerators or in our countryside, rivers and oceans where the plastic lining can break down into micro-plastics affecting our precious wildlife and marine life and polluting our soils.

Additionally, single-use cups made entirely of plastic - often used for takeaway juices and smoothies - are also thought to be used in their billions each year.

In January 2018, the Environmental Audit Committee, chaired by Mary Creagh MP, called on the UK government to introduce a 25p levy targeted at all single use coffee cups. Government subsequently refused to endorse this proposal and in October 2018, the Chancellor stated he would not be introducing a levy on any single use cups, claiming that it would not lead to a widespread shift to reusables.

Yet at the same time, a surcharge of 25p was introduced on single-use cups used for hot drinks sold in the Houses of Parliament. A report by Footprint found that this has resulted in a massive 74% drop in the use of single-use cups, with no negative impact on overall sales.*

We believe that the UK Parliament itself has now delivered compelling evidence that a charge on all single use cups can encourage consumers to switch to reusable alternatives.

Keep Britain Tidy Chief Executive Allison Ogden-Newton said:

“This startling result of a pilot scheme carried out by MPs themselves surely makes the case for charges to be introduced? A charge worked to reduce the consumption of single-use carrier bags by 86% so we know it works and these cups are a huge challenge to those of us who want to see an end to litter and waste.

“Since last autumn billions of cups have been littered or thrown away after a single use. That figure would have been reduced by an amazing 1.85 billion if the charge introduced at the Palace of Westminster had been introduced by the Chancellor countrywide.”


Victoria Prentis MP, Vice-Chair of the Tidy Britain APPG, said:

“I’m thrilled Westminster is leading the way in reducing the use of single-use cups in Parliament. We all have a role to play in helping the environment. Making a small change, such as using a reusable cup, is one step towards helping protect the environment and reduce landfill waste. I hope that others can be inspired by the staff, MPs and Peers in Westminster to make this change in their own offices.”


We urge the new UK Chancellor Sajid Javid to introduce a charge of at least 25p, with the proceeds used to support projects that help tackle the climate emergency and end waste for good.

How can you help make this happen?

  1. Sign our petition on - the petition is supported by the following organisations: Keep Britain Tidy, Greenpeace, Surfers Against Sewage, the Marine Conservation Society, CPRE, Earthwatch Europe and the Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland.
  2. Tweet the new UK Chancellor @SajidJavid​ and ask him to introduce a charge on single-use cups, using the hashtag #CupCharge



This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience. View our cookies policy here.

Got it! Plus icon