CONSUMERS should not be forced to pay extra charges on disposable coffee cups as businesses should bear the costs of recycling, a leading industry figure has said.

An influential committee of MPs has proposed that a new 25p ‘latte levy’ should be imposed on all single-use coffee cups to tackle Britain’s throwaway culture.

Customers would pay the fee - aimed at reducing the mountain of billions of disposable cups dumped every year in Britain - under proposals published by Westminster’s environmental audit committee.

The charge could be introduced in Scotland first after the Scottish Government confirmed it supports new levies to crack down on single-use items - and pledged to appoint experts to work on detailed plans.

But Joe Frankel, managing director of Vegware, the Edinburgh-based environmentally-friendly food packaging business said that firms should take more responsibility for recycling rather than pass on costs to the customer.

He said: “The latte levy is positive in increasing consumer awareness around the issues of recyclability of coffee cups and other foodservice items and may lead to a reduction in coffee cup waste.

“However we don’t agree that consumers should need to contribute to developing infrastructure for recycling of these products.

“Manufacturers and the food service packaging industry should take more producer responsibility for ensuring their products are recyclable, and are widely recycled. “ Some shops give money off the price of a hot drink for customers who use reusable cups, such as Pret A Manger, which has just doubled its discount to 50p.

But the Environmental Committee said uptake of these offers was low at only one per cent to two per cent of coffee purchases, and consumers were more responsive to a charge than a discount based on the success of the 5p single-use plastic bag levy.

The UK throws away 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups every year.

Almost all of them are incinerated, exported or sent to landfill because their plastic lining makes them costly to recycle.

The committee heard that less than 1 per cent of coffee cups are recycled because there are only three facilities in the UK that can split the paper and plastic components.

But most people dispose of their coffee cups in recycling bins believing they will be recycled.

The committee said cups from cafes that do not have in-store recycling systems should be printed with “not widely recycled” labels to boost consumer awareness, while cafes that do have recycling systems should label their cups as “recyclable in store only”.

It is also calling on the Government to set fees for producers who make packaging that is difficult to recycle.

Committee chairwoman Mary Creagh said: “The UK’s coffee shop market is expanding rapidly, so we need to kick-start a revolution in recycling.

Laura Foster, head of clean seas at the Marine Conservation Society, said: “Only by treating this issue as one that is the responsibility of both industry and consumers will re-use become the norm in place of single-use and throw away.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: ‘We will appoint an expert panel to advise how we can best achieve this, building on the successful carrier bag charge, and will consider this report’s evidence carefully as we develop this action.’