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Latte levy: Cafés can’t turn away business, will have no choice but to accept dirty ‘keep cups’, says manager

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Coffee shop workers will be forced to accept dirty ‘keep cups’ as part of the incoming latte levy, because they are not in a financial position to decline business, an insider has said.

A new legislation will impose a 20c ‘latte levy’ on all single use takeaway coffee cups to encourage people to bring their own keep cups and cut down on disposable coffee cup waste.

However, leading figures in the industry are now arguing that retailers have already been placed under immense financial stress due to rising business costs and that it is not the right time to introduce an added burden for both businesses and consumers.

Speaking on Newstalk, Managing Director at KC Peaches Katie Cantwell appeared on Newstalk and emphasised how some keep cups presented to them can be in bad condition.

She explained that this puts the workers at risk especially after the pandemic but said that they have to accept any cups they are given.

“Our sector has been so impacted over the last two years, we can’t refuse any business so it would be difficult for us to say to a customer ‘no we can’t accept your cup’ even if it’s disgusting because ultimately we need the business,” Ms Cantwell explained.

“I don’t think that this is the right time for this, give it two years, see how Covid pans out and then let’s make decisions.

“I think what would make a bigger difference would be to potentially add a cent onto each piece of packaging because that would be a minor impact to everyone.

“This would stop more people from buying packaging but ultimately I think putting it onto one specific item and potentially putting our staff at risk I disagree with it.”

Presenter Pat Kenny suggested the use of compostable cups to be used and put a stop to this proposal that “doesn’t need to exist.”

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“All our packaging at KC Peaches in compostable so what would make more sense would be to introduce a lot more compostable bins on streets because currently all that is available is rubbish bins,” Ms Cantwell said.

“I think positive reinforcements, I think go compostable, give us the bins to depose of those items and outlaw more packaging that is not compostable, I think that would be a much better way to go and would have a more positive message for customers and our industry.”

Green Party TD Ossian Smyth explained how any big change like this is a challenge and he can understand the concerns of businesses.

“Every time I use my keep cup, they (the businesses) are saving the cost of a cup which I am told is 18c now, which has gone up with the price of everything else,” he said.

“We had these concerns expressed when we bought in the plastic bag levy a few years ago and people worked their way through them and adjusted.

“A lot of these cups end up on the ground spoiling our countryside and we are using two hundred million of these cups a year, I think there is a great thing to be achieved here, a cleaner country and saving us money.”

The junior minister said although the compostable cups seem appealing, in practice they found that the compostable cups are not going into a composter.

“They need to go to an industrial composter, they wouldn’t work if you put it in your garden or left it to rot, in practice they are ending up in land fill or in incineration, they tend to have a but of coffee at the bottom, so they tend to contaminate the other waste that they go in with if they are put in with paper waste.

“It’s a process of minimisation, we don’t need to use two hundred million cups a year, we need to look at the future where a tiny proportion of that are going to be used.”

He explained that the levy will be charged separately from the coffee and will not be bundled into the cost of the product overall.

Businesses will be charged based on the number of cups that they use and then collected by Revenue.

“We are going to use the exact same mechanism that is used to collect the plastic bag levy, that has been in use for 20 years and is a working system, so we are going to use the same pattern as that.”


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