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Budget 2018: UK will slap a new tax on the manufacture and import of plastic packaging

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Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

UK chancellor Philip Hammond said that he is going to introduce a new tax on the manufacture and import of plastic packaging, which contains less than 30% recycled plastic, from April 2022.

In the first budget to delivered on a Monday since the 1960s, Hammond said the move will “transform the economics of sustainable packaging.” He added that while he has looked at the case for a tax for a specific tax on plastic cups, he was not convinced that it would ultimately affect behaviour — for example, people switching from a disposable cup to a reusable one.

“This forms part of the government’s wider strategy to address plastics waste, with further detail to be set out in the Resources and Waste Strategy later this year. This will address the current situation where recycling rates of plastic are too low, plastic producers use little recycled plastic and some problematic items are rarely recycled and often end up in the natural environment. The Budget also announces funding for plastics and waste innovation,” it said in its statement.

The announcement is another move made by the UK government to tackle the issue over plastic and the environment.

For example, it has been the law since 5 October 2015 that large shops in England have to charge 5p for all single-use plastic carrier bags. The government said the initiative was aimed to reduce “the use of single-use plastic carrier bags, and the litter they can cause, by encouraging people to reuse bags.”

Since that introduction to the law, plastic bag sales have fallen 86%, which has caused campaigners to ask for plastic bottles to be either taxed or banned in the same way. Earlier this year, the UK government said that Britain is set to ban all sales of single-use plastics, including plastic straws and cotton swabs as early as 2019.

There is an estimated 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic that have been produced since the early 1950s. About 60% of the plastic produced is ending up in landfills or in the sea or other places in the natural environment. By 2050, there could be more plastic than fish in the seas if the current consumption trend continues, says the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

This comes on the day that 250 big organisations have pledged to eradicate plastic waste by 2025. The companies involved include Coca-Cola (KO), H&M (HMB.SW), and L’Oreal. Their promise is part of the growing global movement to combat plastic waste pollution, which is harming the seas.


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