The government has announced its decision to introduce a tax on plastic packaging that does not use recycled plastic from April 2022, following a year-long consultation on the impact of plastic packaging on the environment. The findings state the extent of the plastic packaging crisis: plastic packaging accounts for 44 per cent plastic used in the UK, but generates an incredible 67 per cent of plastic waste. The vast majority of plastic packaging in the UK is made from new plastic, because it's cheaper to produce than using recycled plastic.
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The new tax is designed to provide a financial incentive for manufacturers and companies to use more recycled plastic; any packaging that uses less than 30 per cent recycled material will be taxed when the new measure comes into effect.
The decision follows an overwhelming shift in public consciousness about plastic packaging. According to a recent poll*, nearly all of us (82 per cent) firmly believe that the amount of plastic packaging used by supermarkets is excessive and needs to change. And 77 per cent feel that, no matter how much they recycle, the amount of plastic packaging used by retailers is overwhelming; 44 per cent are actively purchasing products that use less or no plastic packaging, even if they cost more.
We want much, much less plastic than is currently used by supermarkets, that much is clear. Whether the tax measure will be sufficient to improve the situation drastically is doubtful. Although taxing new plastic packaging is a move in the right direction, a 30 per cent recycled content doesn't really eliminate the problem of plastic being used as standard.
Or how about every supermarket adopts the Waitrose bring your own packaging experiment that we reported on back in June?
*A poll of over 2,000 UK adults conducted by the retail app Ubamarket (opens in new tab)