The latte levy – a new tax on disposable plastic cups- has hit the UK headlines this week. Brad Frankel gives his expert opinion as a marine conservationist and co-founder of Flooglebinder, a sustainable travel, and education company.
The latte levy is a big deal right now, and rightly so. Ocean plastics are a huge issue and any way of getting talking and raising awareness is great. However, it’s a very small plaster over a very big wound. Disposable cups are one of many contributing factors to the plastic issue we’re facing, not to mention the relatively small percentage of people who actually buy hot drinks on the high street and of those many don’t care for the environment or about the increase in tax. When you actually break this down the impact is a drop in the ocean.
Therefore, the producers and corporates have a responsibility to take ownership of their impact, such as the entire BCorp community do, and should be educating their customers about these issues. There also needs to be a change in consumer behaviour to decrease the throwaway-mindset but these cultural changes can be even harder, as again, a number of people don’t really care – it’s our job to make people care and create a connection with them and the environment, so that they understand it better, connect with it, enjoy it and want to protect it. If we can’t create that connection, then young people’s behaviour will never change.
Re-useable items, such as coffee cups, are great to build loyalty within brands, whilst reducing company costs and their environmental impact. At the same time, it will raise awareness to the consumer, even if that is originally just to save money. If saving 25p rather than paying the latte levy is more important to someone than their environmental footprint, it’s a start and means that individual will have a massive impact, such as if they were to choose a BCorp brand. This will hopefully grow as they learn more about a sustainable lifestyle, resulting in a more active approach!
There is no simple solution: corporates have to take responsibility, consumers have to take responsibility and educators have to take responsibility. For so many people the issues seem so far away but the reality is students graduating now will be seriously affected by the awful situation they have inherited. At Flooglebinder, our focus is on ‘this’ generation and to teach them about the issues but more importantly to create a connection so that they want to become ambassadors of our planet. These are the future leaders and game changers that we hope to inspire through adventure, education and play.