UK government launches consultation on proposed plastic packaging tax

UK – The UK government has launched a consultation process seeking views on the proposed plastic packaging taxes which looks to cement its leadership in a sustainable economy.

The government proposed new taxes and tougher regulations for packaging producers to limit production of plastic waste and their impacts in oceanic and environmental pollution.

The consultation outlines the government’s proposal for how the tax will work including the type of packaging and taxing criteria, how to assess recycled content, and which businesses will be liable for the tax.

In Budget 2018 outline, the government treasurer Philip Hammond announced that from April 2022 it would introduce a world-leading new tax on the production and import of plastic packaging with less than 30% recycled content.

According to his report, plastic packaging accounts for 44% of plastic used in the UK, but 67% of plastic waste, and over 2 million tonnes of plastic packaging is used each year.

“We are committed to going further and faster to reduce, reuse, recycle and cut waste.

That’s why we are leading the way to move away from being a ‘throw-away’ society and drive up domestic recycling.

“Through our plans, we will introduce a world-leading tax to boost recycled content in plastic packaging, make producers foot the bill for handling their packaging waste, and end the confusion over household recycling.

“We are committed to cementing our place as a world leader in resource efficiency, so we can be the first generation to leave our environment in a better state than we inherited it,” said UK environment secretary Michael Gove.

The move targets to promote use of more sustainable plastic packaging, encouraging greater use of recycled plastic and helping to reduce plastic waste. This complements the government’s proposals for reformed Packaging Producer Responsibility regulations.

The Resources and Waste Strategy published in December with a goal to preserve material resources by minimising waste, promoting resource efficiency and moving towards a circular economy in England.

Under the strategy, packaging businesses and manufacturers in the UK will pay the full cost of recycling or disposing of their packaging waste.

The strategy also requires food businesses to make annual reports on food surplus and waste, with plans to introduce mandatory targets for food waste prevention.

According to the report, a deposit return scheme will also be launched to increase the recycling of single-use drinks containers, including bottles, cans, and disposable cups.

The government also plans to introduce a consistent set of recyclable material for collection, funded by industry through Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) and subject to consultation.

The industry will be obligated to pay higher fees if products are harder to reuse, repair or recycle and will encourage sustainable design.

The consultation on the plastic packaging taxes will run for 12 weeks.

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