The Latte Levy

We blogged before about the level of support for a plastic cup tax or 'latte levy', showing high levels of support, in principle.

But of course, the real issue is how much the tax or levy will cost and what the real reaction will be to higher prices as a result.

To explore this further, Amárach teamed up with Carr Communications to look at the potential impact of the latte levy on Irish plastic waste levels. The results are very impressive.

Most people would support a ban on single use coffee cups in Ireland, recent research has found by Amárach Research and Carr Communications has found. On average people believe that the ‘Latte Levy’ will bring about a change in their own behaviour, and even more so change the behaviour of others.

Nearly 2 million of these cups are sent to landfill each day. The ‘Latte Levy’ has been proposed as a mechanism to reduce our reliance on such items.

The research examined public opinion on the 15c ‘Latte Levy’ through a nationally representative survey of 1,000 Irish adults. The full report can be downloaded here.

Highlights of the research include:

  • While the ‘Latte Levy’ may have an impact, it would be greatly enhanced by including other behavioural nudges such as offering discounts to those who use re-useable cups, or a refund scheme for the return of reusable cups; collectively they could divert up to 250,000 plastic cups from land fill every day
  • Irish adults purchase on average 4.17 hot drinks each week
  • Those aged 16 – 24 consume more drinks in disposable cups than other age groups
  • Nearly 6 out of 10 consider these cups to be environmental pollution
  • 42% of people feel that 15c was too much as a levy
  • People believe the levy will impact on their own behaviour, as well as the behaviour of others

People are supportive of the ‘Latte Levy’, but would place a stronger preference on other measures such as receiving a discount for using a refillable container / cup, being issued a free reusable container, and a refund for returning plastic items.

People prefer to receive a discount on a refillable container, rather than paying a levy on single use containers, even though both policies would have a similar impact on people’s purses.

The researchers tested different ways of wording the questions to understand how that impacts on how people think about issues. This research demonstrates the importance of language in communicating policy changes, in bringing about the most effective and sustainable behaviour change, and is important in light of the proposed Waste Reduction Bill 2017.

KEY TAKEAWAY: even relatively modest taxes have the potential to drive big changes in consumer behaviour, so long as consumers feel they have a real choice.

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