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Haringey Council should set an example on disposable plastic says Lib Dem Councillor

Haringey Lib Dem Cllrs Scott Emery & Luke Cawley-Harrison calling for a new charge on disposable plastic cups

Haringey Liberal Democrats are calling for the Council to lead by example, and stop encouraging the use of disposable plastic items.

Cllr Scott Emery, Haringey Lib Dem spokesperson on the Environment, has written to Cllr Hearn, Cabinet Member for the Environment, proposing that the Council should begin charging 25p for disposable cups and promote reusable alternatives on its premises.

Cllr Emery says:

“The plastic bag tax that Lib Dem ministers introduced when they were part of the Coalition government not only massively reduced the amount of bags becoming litter and waste, but it also generated over £66m for good causes in the year 2016-17. It is time the same started happening with disposable cups. There are alternatives and it is time we push for people to use them.

“A lot of businesses are already taking this sort of step. The Council should be proactive and make the change as soon as possible rather than sitting on their hands.”

The letter in full is as follows:

Dear Cllr Hearn,

I am contacting you regarding an issue which I feel is increasingly pressing, and that the council must take action on without delay. I hope you will support me with the following request.

My fellow Haringey Lib Dem councillors and I believe that everyone has a part to play in protecting the environment. This extends from national government, via local councils, right down to the individual. As you are doubtless aware, one aspect of this duty that has become more prominent recently is unnecessary plastic use and ways to reduce it.  This is a matter where as the local authority, Haringey Council should provide leadership and set an example for other employers in the borough. Haringey Council has recently run a Refill Action day, highlighting the importance of using reusable drinks bottles however ignored another huge waste in the borough; disposable coffee cups.

Every year in the UK, 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups are thrown away. Due to the nature of the production of disposable cups, a paper cup with a plastic lining, there are only 3 recycling centres in the UK that currently process them.  This, along with the contamination of a liquid, means that less than 1/400 are eventually recycled. Non-recycled plastic takes hundreds of years to biodegrade. Gradual breakdown of plastics results in tiny “microplastics” that can be ingested by small creatures, and chemicals that are potentially toxic for animal life. A 2017 study by Cardiff University found that the provision of free re-usable alternatives combined with clear environmental messaging and a charge on disposable cups increased the use of reusable cups from 5.1% to 17.4%. It also found “while a charge on disposable cups increased the use of re-usable coffee cups, discount on re-usable coffee cups had no impact on their usage.” The carrier bag charge brought in by the coalition government reduced usage by 85% and is expected to raise up to £730 million for good causes over the next 10 years. As of the 26th July Starbucks, the leading coffee company in the UK, has started charging for disposable coffee cups.

In the light of this, the Liberal Democrat group are asking for Haringey Council to introduce a charge of 25p for a disposable cup in any Haringey Council building with the increased revenue being ring-fenced for environmental initiatives and the decrease in plastic waste across the borough. We would like this to be accompanied by a commitment to provide long-term, reusable alternatives at every point where this charge is made, alongside clear environmental messaging to reinforce this.

We are aware that the cafe within River Park House is operated by a third party under contract, and so we want to work with them, council officers and cafe users to bring this initiative in as soon as possible, in a really positive way.

I am contacting you as cabinet member for the Environment to support this request, so Haringey Council can set an example to the rest of the borough. I would be keen to meet with you and the officers responsible to discuss this further, and hopefully set the wheels in motion.

I look forward to your support on this crucial matter and discussing how we can progress this initiative.

Best wishes,

Cllr Scott Emery
Haringey Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for the Environment

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