PLASTIC TAX: How much will it cost you?
- Extension on 5p plastic bag charge
- Extra levies on coffee cups, takeaway containers and plastic bottles
- Could your weekly food shop be going up?
- When are the changes happening?
The Government has announced its’ much anticipated 25 year Environmental Plan, which has the main aim of tackling the UK’s plastic waste.
Publication has been delayed several times, due to changes in circumstances with Brexit, changes in Environmental Secretaries, and a leaked version of the document being heavily criticised last year.
It was already leaked earlier in the week that part of this plan will include and extension on the 5p plastic bag tax, which has now been confirmed.
Environmental Secretary Michael Gove also said the proposed ‘Latte Levy’ will be taken into consideration, but may not be introduced.
So what are the main proposals?
The Plan includes educating children about the impact of plastic on the environment, giving aid to developing countries to help them tackle plastic waste, and to establish a ‘protected blue belt’ in Overseas Territories.
But the main focus is on the reduction of plastic production and waste in the UK, and this will mainly be done by creating extra taxes and charged on disposable plastic products.
This means that several items could be more expensive than before.
Plastic bags have had a 5p charge on them since October 2015 in shops with over 250 employees, this is now being extended to all shops to close the current loophole in the charge.
The success of this policy, which has seen a 90% reduction in the use of plastic bags since its’ introduction, is the driving force behind calls to introduce other similar charges on disposable plastics.
Disposable coffee cups are expected to have a similar style of charge introduced.
Last Friday, the Environmental Audit Committee proposed a charge of 25p to be introduced on the cups, and the money from this would go towards creating recycling plants that could recycle the cups.
Each year, the UK throws away 2.5 billion coffee cups, as the combination of plastic and paper in them makes them hard to recycle.
The Government has no confirmed that the advice from the Committee will be put into action.
Gove said, “I think it is an exciting idea from the Committee, and it is one we are reflecting on.
“People are already prepared to pay more in order to help the environment, that’s been one of the lessons of the success of the plastic bag tax.”
Plastic bottles are similarly expected to be taxed in the near future.
The UK use a massive 38.5 million single use plastic bottles, as well as 50 million cans, every day, and only half of these are recycled.
This makes them the worst offender for contributing to the UK’s plastic waste problem, so it is highly likely that you will be charged extra for using a plastic bottle.
Hugo Tagholm, Chief Executive of Surfers Against Sewage, welcomed the steps to cut this form of plastic waste
He said, “The time for action is now, and we urge the Government not to kick the proverbial plastic bottle down the street, but keep implementing new policies and legislation that the country is crying out for, to finally go plastic free.
“We must reinvent our relationship with single-use plastic to eliminate, replace, and recycle plastic faster, and more effectively.”
Plans for a plastic bottle charge have already been criticised by Greenpeace.
The environmental charity said that the announcements on plastics have been a missed opportunity, particularly an omission on no plans for a deposit return scheme for plastic bottles, which has previously been effective in cutting down on waste.
Takeaway containers are also in line to be more expensive.
Similar to the current plastic bag charge and the proposed coffee cup charge, you may have to pay if you get a takeaway with a plastic container.
It can take 450 years for the average takeaway container to be broken down, and as the average Brit gets 12 takeaways a month, this makes the containers a huge problem for the environment.
Plastic packaging on food is also expected to be tackled.
This does not mean that your weekly food shop will go up in price if you buy items with disposable plastic packaging.
Instead, supermarkets will be urged to introduce ‘plastic free aisles’, where products are either free from packaging, or have alternative eco-friendly wrapping.
Marks and Spencer recently faced criticism for their packaging of a ‘cauliflower steak’, which featured two types of plastic wrapping.
When are these changes taking place?
It is not yet known when you will be paying any extra for using plastic products.
The Environmental Plan has been approved by The Cabinet, but any policies have yet to be drafted into legislation.
The Government is aiming to eliminate plastic waste by 2042, so it could realistically be a few years before any of the ideas put forward in the plan will be introduced.
Are you happy to pay more to help the environment? Let us know in the comments!