And, following the announcement in the chancellor’s Autumn Budget statement today (22 November), HM Treasury confirmed the government will launch “a call for evidence in early 2018 on how the tax system or charges could help to reduce the amount of single-use plastic waste”.
Speaking to MPs, Mr Hammond said: “Audiences across the country, glued to Blue Planet II, have been starkly reminded of the problems of plastics pollution.
“Now I want us to become a world leader in tackling the scourge of plastic, littering our planet and our oceans.
Defra is already consulting on a deposit return scheme which would see consumers pay a deposit which is refundable once the empty bottle or container is returned.
Following today’s announcement, experts within the waste and recycling sector have welcomed the consultation.
Chief executive of Suez recycling and recovery UK, David Palmer-Jones expressed support in favour of policy and taxation changes on packaging.
“We welcome any government initiative which seeks to drive down the use of single-use plastics in favour of more sustainable, recyclable, forms of packaging and products,” said Mr Palmer-Jones.
“We welcome any government initiative which seeks to drive down the use of single-use plastics in favour of more sustainable, recyclable, forms of packaging and products.”
“This is a vital step towards achieving a more resource-efficient society and encouraging producers to take more responsibility.”
However, Suez’ chief executive explained that taxation changes to help the environment need to be part of a ‘wider policy’ which marries the protection natural resources with a modern, sustainable, industrial strategy.
“An extended producer responsibility regime should address all forms of resource usage, materials and packaging production, and their collection, reuse and recycling across the supply chain,” he added.
Richard Kirkman, chief technology & innovation officer at Veolia UK and Ireland, said the company supports any initiative that encourages more recycling. However, he explained, the ‘real value’ will be realised if the tax revenue is spent on finding new solutions to tackle these ‘single use’ products.
Mr Kirkman said: “As a nation, we need to recognise the importance of recycling plastic to help reduce the amount of waste going to landfill or ending up in our oceans. After all, we fail to recycle almost half of the plastics bottles we use.
“As a nation, we need to recognise the importance of recycling plastic to help reduce the amount of waste going to landfill or ending up in our oceans.”
“Therefore, we believe there needs to be a clear distinction between what is and isn’t ‘single use’ plastic, to help people make informed decisions. Clear labelling is key. For example, plastic bottles are not ‘single use’ if they’re recycled, whereas straws, takeaway food trays and plastic cutlery often cannot be used again.
Mr Kirkman suggests that the solution to making all plastics ‘easily recyclable’ lies in collaboration. “At Veolia we want to ensure sustainability throughout the entire packaging supply chain by working with designers, manufacturers and processors to find sustainable solutions, while raising awareness with consumers,” he said.
The Environmental Services Association (ESA), has also welcomed announcement in the Budget to reduce single-use plastics waste.
ESA’s executive director, Jacob Hayler said: “By making producers more responsible for the end of life of their plastic products, eco-design will be properly rewarded and the pressure on local authorities’ budgets will be relieved.”