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Award Winner 2019: Corporate Campaign of the Year

APCO - 45 Days to Stop the Latte Levy

The 2019 PRCA Public Affairs Awards celebrated the best work of the year and below is the category's winning entry.


About a month and a half before the UK Chancellor’s annual budget statement, Frugalpac, the recyclable cup manufacturer, become aware that the government was considering imposing a 25p ‘latte levy’ on every disposable cup sold (regardless of whether or not the cup in question was recyclable) in an effort to persuade consumers to carry re-usable coffee cups. Unless this levy could be delayed—or Frugalpac cups be exempted—our client’s business would have been destroyed. Frugalpac engaged APCO in an effort to stop or delay the levy.


APCO moved quickly to plan and implement an integrated public affairs and media relations campaign to show the levy could be counter-productive by killing off an innovative new sector developing fully recyclable alternatives, like Frugalpac. Given the extremely short time frame, we decided that direct political advocacy was the best approach.


Direct Advocacy Highlights

APCO arranged for our client to meet:

  • Dr Thérèse Coffey MP, Minister for Recycling, who then put us in touch with relevant officials at the Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA).
  • Ian Lucas MP, Treasurer of the Packaging Manufacturing APPG, who then wrote a letter to Robert Jenrick MP, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, outlining his support for a fiscal intervention but warning against the dangers of a ‘latte levy’ as currently proposed.
  • Prime Minister’s Office. We secured a meeting at Number 10 with Lord (John) Randall, the Prime Minister’s Environmental Policy Adviser. Lord Randall continued to engage directly with our client as the budget statement was finalised.
  • HM Treasury and DEFRA. At the Conservative Party Conference we met with Giles Winn, Special Advisor to the Chancellor of the Exchequer; and Josh Grimstone, Special Advisor to the Secretary of State for DEFRA, both of whom took samples of Frugalpac’s product and our briefing back to their respective Ministerial teams.
  • Nia Griffiths MP, who then tabled Parliamentary Questions around the levy and its possible implications.
  • We also galvanised Members of Parliament to write to the relevant Minister at the Treasury and table Parliamentary Questions to put additional pressure on the government to consider the impact of the levy on the burgeoning recyclable packaging industry in the UK.


We met, and briefed, environment editors and columnists at The Times, The Sun, The Financial Times, The Daily Mail, The BBC and The Daily Express, resulting in national media coverage making the point that the proposed levy could be counter-productive.

We also secured trade media coverage for Frugalpac around its leadership announcement, following the appointment of industry veteran Malcolm Waugh as the new CEO. We used this press release as a hook to raise the issue of Frugalpac’s opposition to a blanket latte levy in trade publications.


In the Chancellor’s budget statement on 29th October, 2018 he said he had ‘looked carefully at the case for introducing a levy on the production of disposable plastic cups...(but) concluded that a tax in isolation would not, at this point, deliver a decisive shift from disposable to reusable cups... I will monitor carefully the effectiveness of the action the takeaway drinks industry is already taking to reduce single-use plastics and I will return to this issue if sufficient progress is not made.’

This was essentially the ideal outcome for Frugalpac as it buys the company time to bring its fully recyclable disposable cup to mass market and incentivises the large coffee chains to adopt its new product, or a similar one, in order to avoid a future levy.

Frugalpac began mass production at its factory in Wrexham in February 2019 and has already secured several significant orders from coffee shop chains in the UK.