Saturday, February 21, 2004

Coffee tax, part 2

In a previous entry, I wondered how much revenue a coffee tax would generate, and how much damage the litter from coffee cups and other fast food containers causes.

In an article from today's Globe and Mail, Katherine Harding fills me in on at least the latter:

"Councillor Jane Pitfield, chair of the city's works committee, said she is happy the mayor is trying to tackle this ongoing problem, which has hurt the city's reputation as a clean place to visit and live.

"'What we don't need to do is throw more money after this problem,' she said. Ms. Pitfield added that the city already spends about $16-million a year keeping the streets clean. About 90 per cent of that is spent on picking up what falls on the ground, such as coffee cups, newspapers and fast-food containers."

Interesting — the $16 million figure (times 90% = $14.4 million) isn't that far off my highly unscientific estimate of $18 million in revenue. Mind you, that cost isn't just picking up coffee cups, but also other common items; maybe such a tax should be extended to other "problem" items -- newspapers, fast food items, cups of coffee.

As a sidenote, while Tim Hortons is a major generator (albeit indirectly) of litter from coffee cups, they get top marks for generally serving eat-in customers with reuse-able dishes and cutlery. I wonder if there is any possible application of that principle to other fast-food establishments.


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