The Irish government has approved a new bill placing a €0.20 ($0.22) charge for disposable coffee cups and a total ban on their use by sit-in customers at cafés and restaurants
Nearly half a million disposable coffee cups are sent to landfill sites for incineration every day in Ireland | Photo credit: Jasmin Sessler
Ireland has staked its ambition to become the first country in the world to eliminate disposable coffee cup use. The Circular Economy Bill, which has been approved by Ireland’s government, aims to phase out single-use products in Ireland, including the 200 million disposable coffee cups used every year.
According to the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications, nearly half a million disposable coffee cups are sent to landfill sites for incineration every day in Ireland.
The bill introduces a mandatory €0.20 ($0.22) charge for disposable cup use, with a complete ban introduced for sit-in customers in cafés and restaurants being introduced over the coming months.
“This bill aims to stop the wasteful pattern of using valuable resources once and then just binning them. From discouraging the use of single-use items, to improving the process for allowing recycled materials onto the market, this legislation will support the development of sustainable products and business models across the economy,” said Minister of State with responsibility for Communications and Circular Economy, Ossian Smyt.
According to the to the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications, 45% of Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions come from the manufacture of materials associated with single-use products and their production.
Disposable coffee cups present a major challenge for governments and businesses seeking to reduce waste sent to landfill. In 2019, the European Union’s Single-Use Plastics Directive mandated for member states to collect 90% of all plastic beverage containers by 2029.
In June 2022, South Korea will introduce a mandatory refundable deposit
for disposable coffee cup use. The deposit scheme, which aims to increase recycling rates, will be collected by operators and will apply to hospitality businesses with 100 or more outlets.
Coffee businesses are also increasing efforts to reduce coffee cup waste. In March 2022, the world’s largest coffee chain, Starbucks, indicated it would shift away
from disposable coffee cups across its 35,000+ stores.
Meanwhile, Canada’s A&W restaurant chain is trialling 100% compostable coffee cups at some of its 1,000+ stores.
In the UK Costa Coffee is trialling a reusable cup scheme at stores in Glasgow and could roll-out the initiative across its 2,700+ store portfolio.