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Tackling waste: tax on takeaway packaging items coming soon?

Tackling waste

In last week’s Budget Philip Hammond announced plans for a Government investigation into the tax system and current charges on single-use plastic items, to determine avenues for waste reduction. The idea is to help protect our environment and prevent pollution in Earth’s oceans.


It is possible that the result of these investigations will be a new tax on single-use packaging items such as polystyrene takeaway boxes, plastic bottles and coffee cups. At this stage, no clues have been given as to how the suggested taxes would work in practice, or the level at which they might be set.

Soon, scientists, retailers and manufacturers will provide reports to the Treasury who will then compile them to form the basis of their review during 2018.

In response to this aspect of the Chancellor’s Budget statement, Foodservice Packaging Association Executive Director Martin Kersh said:

“The FPA welcomes the Evidence Gathering proposal by the Treasury because it will give the industry the opportunity to prove that there is a far superior option on the table to taxation, which will deliver the objectives the government, public and the industry wants at a far lower cost to the consumer.

“Defra is aware our sector is actively working to produce a roadmap for the recovery and recycling of ‘on the go’ materials of which food and drink is only one part. The industry is recognising the need to reform its producer responsibility system via the Packaging Recovery Note scheme. This system has been proven to deliver great value in terms of recycling but now needs to be reformed to meet today’s marketplace and the challenging targets towards which we are all working.”

Alan Fox, NCASS, said:Alan Fox, NCASS MD

“While I agree that it’s crucial that we take steps as a county to reduce our impact on the environment and prevent pollution as far as possible, I would hope that taxation doesn’t end up being the solution to this problem. Yes, the plastic bag charge has reduced the number of bags being used in British supermarkets but it would be impossible to say whether or not the same would happen with other packaging materials at this stage.

"There are many charities out there doing good work to reduce the amount of packaging wasted by households and food businesses alike and we might see greater results if more funds were put into helping further the work of such organisations.

"Perhaps this investigation will highlight ways that we can educate consumers and businesses alike to reduce packaging waste, before applying a blanket tax. On the other hand, a taxation on non-recyclable products could potentially help to reduce the prices of recyclable products, which would certainly be a good thing for the industry and for the environment too."

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