Britain will introduce the world’s first plastic tax

Britain will introduce the world’s first plastic tax for products made up of less than 30 per cent recycled material

  • Treasury Secretary Robert Jenrick says ‘we can’t go on’ polluting the planet
  • New tax will provide a huge boost by increasing demand for recycled plastic
  • Announcement is a victory for Mail campaign for action over plastic pollution 

Treasury Secretary Robert Jenrick is adamant UK must take huge steps to reduce pollution

Britain is pressing ahead with the world’s first plastic tax because ‘we can’t go on’ polluting the planet, the Treasury said yesterday.

The plastic levy will be a major victory for the Daily Mail, which has led calls for action with its Turn the Tide on Plastic campaign.

It will hit plastic manufacturers that fail to include 30 per cent recycled content. It will also provide a huge boost to the recycling industry by massively increasing demand for recycled plastic.

Treasury Secretary Robert Jenrick said: ‘Every single day we’re all polluting the planet with items that can’t be recycled. In the UK alone, we buy 2 million tonnes of plastic each year.

‘Less than half of that is recycled, and the rest goes straight into landfill, some of which makes its way into our seas and oceans, and harms marine life. We can’t go on like this.’

Dumping half of all the plastic sold in the UK threatens the natural world as well as being a huge waste of resources, according to Treasury research.

The need to make use of plastic waste comes as China closes its doors to the bulk of British plastic waste – making it all the more urgent that we find ways to deal with it in the UK.

Mr Jenrick said: ‘I’ve seen it for myself when I’ve joined groups like Surfers Against Sewage on our beaches.

‘We must play our part in tackling plastic waste and, as one of the most innovative countries on earth, we need to focus the power of the market on this challenge. That’s why the Treasury has consulted on how we can introduce a tax on the producers of plastic packaging containing less than 30 per cent recycled material.

‘Our aim is not to raise money for the Exchequer, but to spur business to invent and deploy better products.’

Chancellor Philip Hammond promised last year that the Government would stop millions of tonnes of plastic going to landfill or incineration each year by introducing the tax.

He said the levy was inspired by Sir David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II, which had ‘woken people up to the issue of plastics’ and would make the UK ‘a world leader in tackling the scourge of plastic littering our planet and our oceans’.

The Mail led a campaign calling for a charge on plastic bags which has been a huge success – massively reducing the number of bags given out by supermarkets each year. It has also successfully called for a ban on plastic microbeads in cosmetics, and is campaigning for a deposit return scheme to ensure more plastic bottles are reused.

Mr Jenrick added: ‘Just as a previous Conservative Chancellor, Ken Clarke, radically reduced the amount of waste going to landfill by designing a ground-breaking tax a generation ago, we are setting out to do the same for plastics. I’ll soon be meeting businesses to discuss how we can work together to turn these ideas into action.

‘The evidence for action is compelling. We know that a charge on plastic does work: we’ve cut our use of plastic bags by four-fifths since the 5p charge was introduced. We’ve saved more than 48,000 tonnes of plastic going into landfill, or being sent to recycling centres, and reduced litter that spoils our local areas and countryside.

‘We’re confident that with the right incentives, our entrepreneurs and inventors will develop products, not just of value here in the UK, but elsewhere in the world, creating the jobs and businesses of the future.

Mr Jenrick added: ‘We want to introduce this tax by 2022, which means we’re giving businesses some time to adapt their production processes.’ The Treasury is facing calls to delay the tax or water it down by plastic manufacturers’ lobbying group, the British Plastics Federation.

This is despite the federation’s own research showing that a plastics tax would have a huge impact and boost recycling of plastic from 25 per cent of all plastic to 75 per cent.

A federation spokesman said there were ‘numerous technical challenges’ to introducing a plastic tax.

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