Is a plastic tax the best route to sustainability?

Following the outcry of public support, the government is looking to introduce a new tax on ‘bad plastics’ in a hope to encourage the use of recyclable plastics and other plastic alternatives.   But is it best to effect change through use of the carrot or the stick?

The UK only has few recycling plants capable of dealing with plastics, even compostable plastics – certainly not enough to process the 275,000 tonnes of plastic used by the UK each year.

In this case in particular, the manufacturers are ahead of the policy. Companies such as Plastico are leading the move to plastic alternatives, as these often are often far better for the environment than recycled plastic.

Perhaps the government should be offering incentives for the implementation of these, rather than taxing ‘bad plastics’ at a higher rate.

The government’s call for evidence last year, which received a record 162,000 responses, highlighted that recycled plastic using is often more expensive than using new plastic, despite its lower environmental impacts. The government wants to shift the economic incentives involved in the production of more sustainable plastic packaging, encouraging greater use of recycled plastic and helping to reduce plastic waste.

By Rebecca Garland on 06/03/2019