A recent BMG poll on behalf of the Independent reveals that the majority of the Great British public support the introduction of a 25p tax on disposable cups for hot drinks. The so-called ‘latte levy’ was proposed by the Environmental Audit Committee earlier this month who argued the extra tax would increase recycling and raise money to invest in reprocessing facilities.
Between 9th and 12th January, BMG asked a representative sample of 1513 adults: “Some MPs have proposed introducing an extra 25p tax on to the price of a single disposable coffee/hot drink cup in a bid to reduce the environmental damage of single-use plastic. To what extent do you support or oppose this policy proposal?”
A majority (55%) either “strongly” or “somewhat” support the introduction of the additional tax, with just under one fifth “strongly” or “somewhat” (21%) against. Around a quarter (24%) of respondents neither support nor oppose the proposal.
Majority support – even among ‘to-go’ customers
And it appears that levy receives majority backing even among those who regularly purchase drinks “to-go” from hot drinks outlets, with 51% of those who say they buy to-go hot drinks either “very often” or “quite often” backing the proposal, with under a third (29%) against.
Support for the policy increases among less frequent on-the-go customers, with 52% of those that reported purchasing to-go drinks either “from time to time” or “rarely” supporting the levy, as well as 60% respondents who say they never purchase them.
Lower earners and the young less in favour
One would perhaps expect a policy of this nature to receive greater backing from younger respondents, as this demographic tends to be more supportive of policies that aim to tackle climate change and environmental damage. However, the levy actually receives greater levels of support in older age brackets, with 50% of 18-34s in support, ten percentage points below the figure for over 55s (60%). It is likely that, as more frequent purchasers of ‘to-go’ hot drinks, younger consumers tend to be more worried about the effect the levy would have on their pockets.
Indeed, the poll also reveals lower support for the policy from those on lower incomes. Support dipping below 50% among those with household incomes of less than £20,000 per year (48%), compared to 60% support for those with household incomes greater than £60,000.
A reduction in use?
As well as showing majority support for the levy, the poll also suggests the levy would persuade people to stop using disposable cups altogether and instead bring their own cup. Respondents who stated that they purchased ‘to-go’ hot drinks (at least “rarely”) were asked, “Should a 25p tax be introduced on disposable plastic cups, how likely would you be to bring in your own cup/container, instead of paying extra for a disposable plastic cup?”
Some 56% said they were either “very” (27%) or “fairly” (29%) likely to do so. Around a third said they were “fairly” (20%) or “very” unlikely, with 10% were unsure. The likelihood of cutting back was stable between regular (very/quite often) purchasers (59%) and less frequent (from time to time/rarely) buyers (56%). However, whilst the poll makes clear that many have what one might call good intentions when it comes to their use of disposable cups, whether this would be borne out in reality should the levy be introduced remains to be seen, although similar measures introduced on plastic bags have seen significant changes in public consumption habits.
The original article that reported on these results by The Independent can be found here.
Methodology, fieldwork dates, and a full breakdown of these results can be found here.
For a more detailed breakdown of results from this poll, or any other results from our polling series, please get in touch by email or phone.
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Robert Struthers – Senior Research Executive