The UK government has announced that it will introduce a new tax on single-use plastics in a bid to further tackle plastic waste levels in the country.
2.26 million tonnes of plastic packaging is used in the UK each year, with the vast majority of this being made from new plastic rather than recycled materials.
However, under the new proposals, food and drink companies will be taxed on all plastic packaging that does not include at least 30% recycled content, and the proposed tax will cover plastics that are produced in the UK and those that are imported.
The implementation of the policy is subject to consultation, and the tax is not set to come into force until 1 April 2022.
A statement from the UK government claims that the 2022 implementation date has been set to give businesses sufficient time to adapt their packaging accordingly, and effectively manage any costs they may face.
The revenue that is collected from these measures will “enable investment in actions that will address the issues surrounding single-use plastics, waste and litter to help improve the waste system in the UK.”
The UK government also announced that it would invest £20 million to tackle plastic waste levels and boost recycling, with £10 million being invested in research and development and £10 million being used to invest in solutions which boost recycling rates, such as smartbins.
The UK’s chancellor Phillip Hammond said: “We must become a world leader in tackling the scourge of plastic littering our planet and our oceans.
“Billions of disposable plastic drinks cups, cartons, bags and other items are used every year in Britain. Convenient for consumers, but deadly for our wildlife and our oceans.
“Where we cannot achieve re-use, we are determined to increase recycling, so we will introduce a new tax on the manufacture and import of plastic packaging which contains less than 30% recycled plastic, transforming the economics of sustainable packaging.
“We will consult on the detail and implementation timetable.”
The announcement comes a week after EU lawmakers voted to ban a range of single-use plastic throughout the EU from 2021.
Single-use plastic items such as plates, cutlery, straws, balloon sticks and cotton buds will be banned from the EU market under the proposals.