By Costas Pitas
LONDON (Reuters) - Britain should charge a 25-pence ($0.34) "latte levy" on disposable coffee cups to cut down waste and ban them if a recycling target is not met by 2023, a committee of lawmakers said on Friday.
Chains Pret A Manger, Costa Coffee, Caffe Nero and Greggs alongside U.S. firm Starbucks are among the biggest coffee-sellers in Britain, rapidly expanding in the last 10 years to meet increasing demand.
Although some outlets give a discount to customers using their own cup, only 1-2 percent of buyers take up the offer, according to parliament's environmental audit committee which said a "latte levy" was needed instead.
"The UK throws away 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups every year; enough to circle the planet five and a half times," said Chair of the committee, Mary Creagh.
"We're calling for action to reduce the number of single use cups, promote reusable cups over disposable cups and to recycle all coffee cups by 2023," she said.
The committee said that money raised by the charge should help improve recycling facilities and if the 2023 target is not met then disposable coffee cups should be banned.
The Irish parliament is considering banning single-use coffee cups whilst the German city Hamburg said in 2016 it will no longer use coffee-makers with aluminum capsules in its own offices or buildings.
In October 2015, Britain introduced a charge of 5p on all single-use plastic bags provided by large shops, which led to an 83 percent reduction in UK plastic bags used in the first year.
On Friday the environment ministry said the government was working closely with the sector and had made progress in increasing recycling rates.
"We are encouraged by industry action to increase the recycling of paper cups with some major retail chains now offering discounts to customers with reusable cups," said a spokeswoman.
"We will carefully consider the committee’s recommendations and respond shortly," she said.
(Reporting by Costas Pitas; editing by Kate Holton/Guy Faulconbridge)