Spring Statement - Tackling the plastic problem

At the time of the Chancellor’s Spring Statement on 13 March 2018 the Treasury issued a call for evidence ‘Tackling the plastic problem: using the tax system or charges to address single-use plastic waste’.

The objective of the paper is to gather information and opinions to assist the Government in determining how changes to the tax system, or the introduction of new charges, could modify the behaviour of companies and consumers in relation to plastic waste.

The primary objective of any change would be to reduce the amount of single-use plastic waste by minimising unnecessary production, increasing re-use, and improving recycling. The Government also wants to explore how economic incentives can drive environmentally beneficial innovation and investment, both in production and recycling.

The paper indicates that the Government ‘will consider all options for using the tax system and charges’ for these purposes. At this stage it is not putting forward detailed proposals but seeking information as to the factors that drive current behaviour by producers, retailers and consumers, and by those disposing of plastics. It also asks how single-use plastics should be defined, and invites suggestions as to the form that any tax measures or charges should take.

It specifically requests comments on recent proposals for a levy on disposable coffee cups, along the same lines as the existing charge on carrier bags.

The deadline for responses to this call for evidence is 18 May 2018.


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