Tackling the plastic problem: using the tax system or charges to address single-use plastic waste - the UK Government announces a consultation

14.05.18


The UK Government has announced bold ambitions to be the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than we found it. The call for evidence will better enable the Government to assess how changes to the tax system or new charges could change the behaviour of business and consumers.

An appeal is being made to industry, public services, consumers, local authorities, environmental experts and all those interested in the issue to get involved.

“The better [the] evidence, the better [the] policy”.

This consultation is looking to capitalise on success stories such as landfill tax, single-use plastic carrier bag charges and the existing Packaging Waste Recovery Note system. A working group is already considering the benefits of a deposit return scheme to reduce littering and increase recycling of drinks containers.

The call for evidence has been split into lifecycle stages: production, retail, consumption and discarding / waste treatment.

The definition of “single use plastic” will need to be considered as this will determine who is affected by any future legislation and the extent of necessary action.

From a food and drink perspective, the Government is keen to hear of plastic alternatives to takeaway boxes, disposable boxes, coffee cups, plastic cutlery and plastic wrapping and polystyrene packaging as these are all expected to be impacted.

Identifying the problems caused by single use plastic is a key first step before identifying viable solutions while the Government acknowledges that there are situations where plastic cannot be easily replaced.

The Government is seeking input from businesses on how the tax system or charges can play a role in delivering better environmental outcomes, specifically examples of interventions that should be implemented and the effect these would have – both broadly, and in relation to the businesses themselves.

The deadline for responses is 18 May 2018.

The consultation document can be found here :

Responses can be submitted by email: ETTanswers@hmtreasury.gsi.gov.uk

To discuss this consultation in more detail please contact Heather Gibson.