Record Response to Treasury’s Consultation on Plastic Taxes

Offices of HM Treasury in Westminster London

This week the government released the results of its public consultation on how the nation’s tax system could be used to reduce plastic waste. An “unprecedented” number of people responded to the call for evidence, the highest response in the Treasury’s history. The three-month consultation earlier this year was designed to “inform and shape the government’s approach ahead of this year’s Budget.”  

Tax Incentives for Greener Manufacturing

The Treasury said there was clear and “noteworthy public support” for measures including tax breaks for manufacturers using recycled content and increased tax rates on hard to recycle materials. Other measures with public support that are being considered include using the tax system to:

  • encourage greater use of recycled plastic in manufacturing rather than new plastic
  • discourage the use of difficult to recycle plastics, like carbon black plastic
  • reduce demand for single-use plastics like coffee-cups and takeaway boxes
  • encourage further recycling as opposed to incineration

Discussions are ongoing, with the final policies revealed in November’s Budget. Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond said in a statement summarising the results of the survey, “We are committed to taking appropriate action through the tax system as well as through a wider government commitment to addressing this problem.”¬ 

The Bigger Picture

Whilst specific measures such as the 5p carrier bag tax have been successful, and the similar proposed “latte levy” and bans on straws, stirrers and cotton buds are popular with the public (and tabloids) – many industry figures are calling for a bigger picture attitude to tackling the problem. Greater standardisation of recycling services between councils and kerbside collections, as well as greater clarity on the labelling of products are actions that need to be addressed. Waste management figures have welcomed the news of the Treasury’s consultation results, however they say more needs to be done. The Environmental Services Association’s (ESA) Executive Director, Jacob Hayler said:

“A plastic tax will have the biggest impact when it is aimed at production and manufacturing and we are pleased to see that the Treasury is looking at how to encourage greater use of recycled plastic at the start of the waste cycle. It is simply wrong to compare recycling as an alternative to Energy from Waste (EfW) and any suggestion that a tax on incineration will improve recycling is misguided. The reality is that EfW is a much-needed alternative to landfill for waste which cannot be recycled. As an industry we don’t want plastic going to our EfW plants and we invest heavily in recycling as much as practically possible, recovering energy from what is left behind. The Treasury should recognise the valuable role of EfW in putting waste that we cannot recycle to further use, and use tax effectively to target those who manufacture non-recyclable plastic.”

While we await the autumn Budget to see the final results of the consultation, one thing is certain – customers want recyclable products and to see that companies are helping the solution. Our UK manufacturing facilities can help you produce more environmentally friendly products and packaging, we manufacture post consumer recycled (PCR) content and recyclable plastics at our state-of-the-art Norfolk factory. Contact us today to discuss your commitment to improving your products. 

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