The Treasury has confirmed that a “record number” of responses were received to a call for evidence earlier this year on how changes to the tax system could be used to reduce the levels of single waste plastics.
And, among the most supported measures, was the use of the tax system to encourage further recycling as opposed to incineration.
Now, the Treasury and ministers appear set to work up proposals to use the tax system to encourage the use of recycled plastic products, with measures likely to be announced in the Budget towards the end of the year.
The call for evidence was launched as part of Chancellor Philip Hammond’s Spring financial statement earlier this year, where a research fund was also set up for work by universities and others into the subject of plastic pollution (see letsrecycle.com story).
Now, the treasury has said that the call attracted an “unprecedented” 162,000 responses, the highest in the Treasury’s history.
Measures which received noteworthy public support and 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 and reduce demand for single-use plastics.
In a statement, the Treasury said the “strong public support” has bolstered the government’s “fight” against plastic waste.
The Exchequer secretary, Robert Jenrick, explained that tackling plastic waste is one of the government’s top priorities.
“I’ve been overwhelmed by the public support and the responses we’ve received will be invaluable as we develop our plans for using the tax system to combat this.
“Our duty to leave the environment in a better state than we found it is absolutely clear and what we’ve set out today is another important step to ensuring a cleaner, greener future for Britain.”
Across Europe in recent weeks, there have been pledges in France to make the use of recycled plastic cheaper for producers than virgin material. Several other countries have a deposit return scheme system, which is thought to be widely supported by the UK public but some in the industry are cautious of its knock-on effects for local authorities.
Upon the announcement of the responses, Hugo Tagholm, CEO of Surfers Against Sewage, a grass-roots movement tackling plastic pollution, said the response was an indication of what the public want.
“This is a clear indication of the public appetite for more fiscal interventions to help reduce plastic pollution littering our environment, from inner-city streets and countryside to our oceans.”