Public Consultation on the Proposed Introduction of New Environmental Levies

‘Coffee Cup’ levy proposal at 0.15 cent per cup

The proposed ‘coffee cup’ levy is really a levy on single-use disposable cups and is being proposed both as a disincentive for consumers to pay extra for the cup and as a means of generating income to be used by the Environment Fund to build re-cycling and composting infrastructure in Ireland. This would allow any remaining disposable cups in the future to be recycled or composted. It is presumed that the levy, alongside other measures, would greatly reduce the estimated 200, 000,000 disposable cups used every year.

Within the debate on single-use plastic generally, the disposable ‘paper’ coffee cup has acquired totemic significance. According to the Government-funded, Recycling List Ireland, there are over 200 million disposable cups used in a year. (The plastic in the paper cup is the coating on the inside to allow the cup to hold hot beverages.)

Cleaning up our environment at the expense of coffee farmers and their environment? Based on current New York Coffee Exchange prices of about US$2.99 a kg, a coffee farmer receives less than EUR0.03 cent of a EUR2.00 cup of coffee. (In reality, they get less than this.)

Using a conservative guestimate of only 100 million of the 200 million disposable cups used a year being filled with coffee, and at a price per cup of EUR2.00, the Latte Levy at 0.15 cent per cup will earn the Government EUR15 million for work on improving the Irish environment. Using the same figure of 100 million cups the coffee farmers will receive less than EUR3 million.

The Irish Government and environment would receive five times as much from the Latte Levy at 0.15cent a cup, as the coffee growers receive for their coffee.

A New Sustainability Fund needed alongside Environment Fund Given the ongoing crises facing millions of coffee farmers related to unsustainably low prices and increasing impacts from climate change, it is imperative that any income earned from a Latte Levy be shared equally between support for coffee farmers’ adaptation strategies, and support for work on the Irish environment.

A new Sustainability Fund needs to be established in the context of the Irish Government’s new overseas Aid Policy and important commitments to helping the ‘poorest first’ and to ‘leaving no one behind’.

The Sustainability Fund created in Irish Aid to support coffee farmers and their environments – would be a significant signal from the Irish Government that it wants to align its development policies at home and overseas. It would create a clear message that helping to facilitate a just transition is at the core of Ireland’s environment, development and climate policies.

The Sustainability Fund would be used to help coffee farmers and their organisations build resilience to climate change impacts, to help them receive fairer prices for their coffee, and to mitigate against deforestation in coffee-growing communities.


From: Fairtrade Ireland, Carmichael, North Brunswick Street, Dublin 7. Ph: 01 475 3515;

Contact: Peter Gaynor, Executive Director, peter@fairtrade.ie