Energy Efficiency and Sustainability

18.02.19

Plastic packaging tax and weekly food collections in plans for government overhaul of national waste system

The government has launched plans to overhaul the country’s waste system, with packaging producers potentially being required to cover the full cost of dealing with their waste and also facing a new tax for plastic packaging.

A series of consultations have been launched as the Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs sets out possible plans to cut plastic pollution and for a “world-leading tax” on plastic packaging.

Local authorities have welcomed the planned overhaul to the waste system, but warned Whitehall that with councils already under “enormous financial pressures,” reform needs to be fully funded.

The government’s proposals, launched by Michael Gove, would see plastic packaging taxed when producers do not meet the minimum threshold of at least 30% recycled content.

Separate weekly food waste collections for every household, and free garden waste collections are amongst the proposals.

As part of the government’s upcoming Environment Bill, the plans will also see the existing recycling system simplified, with consultations considering a new consistent list of recyclable materials to be collected from all households and businesses.

The government said plastic packaging tax will address the issue of producers using new non-recycled plastic material despite its greater environmental impact – and the LGA welcomed the news that producers could cover the full cost of waste disposal.

Martin Tett, environmental spokesperson for the LGA, said councils were working to improve recycling rates but recognised that more needs to be done to boost recycling and meet recycling targets.

“With councils in England facing an overall funding gap of £8bn by 2025, it is vital that the Spending Review fully funds the local services our communities rely on, such as waste and recycling,” Tett commented.

Environment secretary, Michael Gove, said: “Part of the government’s upcoming Environment Bill, the plans will also see the existing recycling system simplified, with consultations considering a new consistent list of recyclable materials to be collected from all households and businesses.

“Through our plans we will introduce a world-leading tax to boost recycled content in plastic packaging, make producers foot the bill for handling their packaging waste, and end the confusion over household recycling.”

Philip Hammond added: “It’s our responsibility to do something about plastic waste pollution and that’s why we will introduce a new tax on the producers of plastic packaging that don’t use enough recycled material.

“This action, coupled with the other measures we are bringing in, will help drive up recycling, cut the amount of new plastic being used and protect our environment for future generations.”

Image credit -  Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire/PA Images

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