Experts call for firm action to boost plastic recycling

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A panel of experts led by Baroness Molly Meacher has urged ministers to ramp-up taxes on disposable plastics as part of a crackdown on pollution caused by the material.

The Sustainable Plastics Policy Commission made a number of recommendations in a report launched at Parliament this week.

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It said the government should focus on the value of plastic and incentivise the emergence of next-generation production and recycling technology.

Chemical recycling should be invested in to meet demand for circular products, added the commission, while targets must be set to reduce incineration.

Compostable and biodegradable plastics need to be better regulated, the study insisted, including through stronger oversight of marketing claims.

Robust evidence should be gathered on the human and environmental harm caused by plastics, the panel urged, while a national sustainable plastics innovation research centre should be created.

Recommendations also included “harnessing tax systems to promote sustainable decisions and create a demand pull for sustainable options.”

Baroness Meacher said: “We must address the effects of plastic pollution. Our government is absolutely key to ensuring that we can retain the value of plastics and extend their life through changes to the making and management of these products.”

Professor Fern Elsdon-Baker, director of the Institute for STEMM in Culture and Society at the University of Birmingham, which had a key role in the report, added: “Our research shows that plastic pollution is among the most significant concerns to the public.

“We need our policy-makers to reflect that concern in their decision making and ensure we do not lag behind other EU countries in areas such as taxation on non-recycled, single-use plastics, and in identifying and restricting key hazardous chemicals.”