Spring Statement: Consultation on plastic tax announced

13th March 2018

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Suzanne McDonagh

A public consultation on taxing environmentally damaging single-use plastics was announced by chancellor Philip Hammond in his spring statement today.

This will explore how the tax system can be used to drive behavioural change and cover the whole supply chain of plastic, including specific items such as coffee cups and takeaway boxes.

Some of the revenues raised would then be used to encourage greener products and services, while an additional £20m has been allocated for businesses and universities to research ways to reduce the environmental impact of plastic.

“We are determined to create an environment that is fit for future generations,” Hammond said. "By working with industry, innovators and the public I am confident we can bring about real change.

“Each year the UK produces millions of tonnes of waste which is neither recyclable nor biodegradable. I want British businesses and universities to lead the world in creating innovative solutions to tackling this global problem.”

The consultation was first proposed in the chancellor’s autumn budget last November, and comes after the government pledged to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste by 2042 in its 25-year Environment Plan.

Today’s statement also included a call for evidence into the impact of non-agricultural vehicles on urban air quality, as well as a need for new training and skills to boost productivity.

Sustainability body IEMA responded by praising these announcements, but criticised a lack of action around addressing changes to the UK’s vehicle fleet, with fuel duty frozen for an eighth successive year.

Chief policy advisor, Martin Baxter, said: “The Industrial Strategy places significant emphasis on electric and low-emission vehicles, which has potentially significant impacts on fiscal revenues.

“The role of environmental taxation in driving behaviour change is important – the government needs to plan over the long-term when such taxation is successful in achieving its objectives.”

Baxter also said the £20m put aside for research into reducing the impact of single use plastic would “not stretch far”.

“We are please to see investments in critical areas, but future levies which catalyse consumer behaviour change will likely have a more significant impact,” he added.

Image credit: Shutterstock


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