Budget 2018: plastic tax plans welcomed as latte levy ditched

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30th October 2018 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

Environmental campaigners have welcomed a new plastic tax – but called for more legislation to protect marine life.

Food and drink companies will be taxed on plastic packaging that does not include at least 30% recycled content, in a drive to reduce dependence on plastics which are difficult or impossible to recycle.

The new tax - which is due to come into force in 2022 and was announced as part of this week’s budget - has been welcomed however environmental charities have said that more must be done to address a plastic crisis in the world’s oceans.

Hugo Tagholm, chief executive of Surfers Against Sewage, called for further action.

He said: “It’s important to see a plastic tax starting to take hold but this announcement is only a start and campaigners must keep up the pressure for more ambitious and swift legislation if we are to tackle the true scale of plastic pollution in our oceans.

“The consultation period alone is enough time for the UK public to throw away over a trillion pieces of plastic – a pile of waste three and a half times as high as The Shard. Voluntary industry measures will never be enough. We need strong legislation to drive change on plastic pollution.”

The government had examined the possibility of introducing a tax on disposable coffee cups – dubbed the latte levy – but stepped back from the plans.

Greenpeace’s UK executive director, John Sauven, said: “We’re currently in the middle of a plastics pollution crisis and yet the chancellor failed to take even small steps towards stemming the flow of single-use plastics by choosing not to introduce a tax on disposable coffee cups and ignoring calls for a tax on brand new plastic.”

The government has said revenues raised from the tax will be used to enable investment to address waste and litter, but details on how it will be spent have not yet been revealed.

Sir John Low, chief executive of the Charities Aid Foundation, said: “It is good news that the chancellor proposes to use the tax system to reduce plastic waste, but he should look to the success of the plastic bag levy to further reduce disposable plastics. We’ve seen first-hand how successful the levy was reducing the number of bags being used, while raising much-needed money for charities.”

In his speech, Philip Hammond said that the UK must become a world leader in tackling the scourge of plastic littering.

He said: “Billions of disposable plastic drink cups, cartons, bags and other items are used every year in Britain. Convenient for consumers, but deadly for our wildlife and our oceans. Where we cannot achieve reuse, we are determined to increase recycling.”