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11-24-2017

BPF Responds to Proposed UK Tax on Plastic Packaging

The United Kingdom considers tax on single-use plastics to tackle ocean pollution. The British chancellor, Philip Hammond, will shortly announce a “call for evidence” on how taxes or other charges on single-use plastics such as takeaway cartons and packaging could reduce the impact of discarded waste on marine and bird life. Announcing the move on plastics, the Treasury cited statistics saying more than a million birds and 100,000 sea mammals and turtles die each year from eating or getting tangled in plastic waste.

In response to the government's proposal the British Plastics Federation urges that all facts be considered during the call for evidence and any measures be proportionate. For example, it should be noted that only 2% of ocean litter comes from the UK, Europe and the USA combined and the plastics industry has invested in hundreds of initiatives to stop plastic leaking into the environment, the BPF says. It should also be taken into account that plastics offer unique, functional benefits and reduce food waste, CO2 emissions and protect products in ways no other material can.

"Any interventions from government should involve detailed consultation with all industry stakeholders associated with the supply of food and drink so that they are effective, evidence-based, maximize recycling and minimize the amount of this valuable and recyclable material being lost to the environment, where it can cause harm. At this point in time, we do not feel that taxation is the best course of action but look forward to continuing constructive dialogue with government."

The introduction just over two years ago of a 5p charge on single-use plastic bags led to an 85% reduction in their use inside six months. The British environment department is seeking evidence on how to reduce the dumping of takeaway drinks containers such as coffee cups through measures such as a deposit return scheme.

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