In his ‘end of austerity budget’, Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond has announced:
- A £10m fund to deal with abandoned waste sites.
- A new tax on the manufacture and import of plastic packaging containing less than 30% recycled plastic.
- There will not be a levy on disposable plastic cups, but that may be reviewed if insufficient change results from industry initiatives.
- DEFRA will introduce changes to the Packaging Producer Responsibility Scheme outside of the Budget.
A key announcement for the 2018 budget is the introduction of “a world-leading new tax on produced or imported plastic packaging”. The new tax will come in to force from 1 April 2022.
Subject to consultation, this will apply to all plastic packaging that doesn’t include at least 30% recycled content.
Alongside already planned reforms to the Packaging Producer Responsibility System, the Government said that this will encourage businesses to ensure that far more packaging can be recycled and to use more recycled plastic in their packaging.
The government will consult on both reforms shortly.
It also announced that, while incineration had a significant role in the UK’s waste management, it wanted to maximise recycling and would consider the introduction of an incineration tax if wider policies failed to deliver this ambition.
Explaining the new plastic packaging tax, the Government statement said:
“2.26 million tonnes of plastic packaging are used in the UK each year. The vast majority is made from new plastic, rather than recycled material. This is because recycled plastic is often more expensive than new plastic, despite its lower environmental impacts.
“A new tax will therefore be introduced on plastic packaging from 1 April 2022. Subject to consultation, this will mean that any business that produces or imports plastic packaging that does not contain at least 30% recycled content will have to pay a tax.
“The tax will provide a clear economic incentive for businesses to use recycled material in the production of packaging which in turn will create greater demand for this material.
“This is a brand-new tax and will be a world leading approach. Business will have until April 2022 to adapt their processes before the introduction of the tax. This will give them time to adjust their behaviour and manage any costs they face while ensuring action is still taken to tackle this important environmental issue.
“This plastic packaging tax will work hand in hand with a reformed Packaging Producer Responsibility System. Plans will be set out later this year to reform this system to make businesses who make and use packaging, including plastic, more responsible for the clean-up and recycling cost of that packaging. It will also encourage them to design and use plastic packaging that is easier to recycle, and discourage them from using plastics which are difficult to recycle, such as black plastic used in food trays.
“The revenue that is collected from these measures will enable investment in actions that will address the issues surrounding single-use plastics, waste and litter to help improve the waste system in the UK.
The budget also announced £20 million to tackle plastics and boost recycling: £10 million more for plastics R&D and £10 million to pioneer innovative approaches to boosting recycling and reducing litter, such as through the use of smartbins.