Put a (better) lid on it

New poll shows majority of public want plastic lids banned immediately

Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod

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Published: 15 May 2021

This Article was Written by: Katie Hill - My Green Pod

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A new poll has revealed that an overwhelming majority of the British public would support the immediate banning of plastic coffee cup lids.  
 
More than seven in 10 (73%) agree that single-use plastic lids should be banned in the UK and almost nine in 10 (87%) believe they are a significant source of environmental pollution and litter.  

The survey of 2,079 UK adults, commissioned by ButterflyCup, comes following last year’s decision by the UK Government to ban plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds – but not lids.

Single-use coffee cups

Britons throw away more than 5,000 takeaway coffee cups every minute – totalling 2.5 billion each year – and only one in 400 is recycled.

If each of those 2.5 billion cup lids were placed on top of each other, they would create a stack long enough to stretch around the entire world. This figure excludes the even larger quantity of plastic lids used for cold drinks. 
 
According to the poll, the number of people who want to ban single-use lids is approximately the same as those who support a ban on single-use plastic straws (73%) and cutlery (71%). Only 8% disagree with a ban on plastic lids.
 
The poll results have caused environmental campaigners to ramp up calls for a single-use plastic lid ban.

‘The UK produces an ocean of single-use plastic lids every year which, even if they make it to a recycling centre, are too small and light to be processed. The majority live on for centuries in landfill or as litter, causing untold damage to our environment and marine life.

‘It is time policymakers take seriously the risk they pose to our natural world.’

SIAN SUTHERLAND
Co-founder of A Plastic Planet

‘Glaring inconsistency’ in plastics ban

Despite more comprehensive single-use plastic bans in other countries, there are currently no plans to ban plastic lids in the UK.

Canada has announced a single-use plastic products ban including plastic lids from 2022, while France plans to ban plastic cup lids from 2021.
 
According to the poll, nearly two-thirds (63%) say they would pay more for an environmentally friendly alternative to the plastic lid – a marked increase from a similar poll in 2019 which found only half of consumers would pay more for eco-friendly packaging.
 
The poll shows a higher awareness among women than men, with 75% of women supporting a ban on single-use plastic lids compared with 71% of men.

Those over the age of 65 also support the ban in greater numbers, with 80% in support compared with 70% of 18- to 24-year-olds.  

‘These results have lifted the lid on the coffee cup and lid waste crisis.  
 
‘They show that delays in banning single-use plastic lids is not caused by a lack of public support. The Government must listen to the public and curb the use of single-use plastic lids in the same way it has done on similar plastic products like straws, stirrers, cutlery and plates – all of which are being banned.  
 
‘It is difficult to understand this glaring inconsistency in the government’s approach.’

TOMMY MCLOUGHLIN
Founder and CEO of ButterflyCup

Mounting pressure on takeout cups

This poll follows growing pressure from campaigners to address the waste caused by the on-the-go coffee culture.

In 2016, TV chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall challenged the major coffee chains to switch to a ‘properly recyclable’ cup to solve the ‘takeout trash mountain’ created by takeaway cups and lids.
 
Last year campaign group Greenpeace expressed concerns that pubs forced to put lids on takeaway pints were causing an unnecessary rise in plastic waste.

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