Industry Resists Planned Cup Levy

Government plans to impose a levy of at least 20 cent on disposable paper coffee cups, before eventually banning them altogether, are facing a campaign of resistance from coffee shop owners, cup manufacturers and industry lobby groups, who claim it will damage business and be counterproductive for the environment.

The levy is one of a number of environmental measures in the Government’s Circular Economy Bill, which has been approved by Cabinet and is expected to become law before the end of the year. Single-use paper coffee cups, which usually also contain a small portion of plastic, will be banned for sit-in cafe customers. The levy will be initially set at 20 cent for takeaway coffees, but could theoretically rise to €1 per drink under the law.

The law will affect thousands of coffee shops around the State, as well as retailers, garage forecourts and other businesses that sell hot drinks. It will also drive up costs for customers — Ireland has one of the most vibrant takeaway coffee cultures in Europe, with more coffee shops per head in Dublin than any city on the Continent bar Amsterdam, according to industry research.

Green Party TD Ossian Smyth, the Minister of State in charge of the plans, has confirmed the Government’s plan is to ban paper coffee cups altogether, and that the levy is just an intermediate measure to get people to "change behaviour".

The Government wants all coffee shop customers to switch to reusable plastic “keep cups” instead. This would mean customers such as office workers and others who typically buy coffee on the move would have to carry around with them a clean coffee cup to hand over to be filled in-store each time.