New plastic tax planned to drive use of unrecyclable material out of existence

20th May 2018 | Recycling

Firms who package goods in unrecyclable plastic will be hit with massive costs under plans to drive its used “out of existence”, The Independent can reveal. Whitehall insiders believe the proposal – effectively a tax on non-reusable plastic – will have a greater impact on the government’s drive to abolish all plastic waste by 2042 than any other measure.

A source close to the proposal told The Independent it would make the cost of using unrecyclable plastics “so exorbitantly high” that companies would simple conclude they are no longer worth it.

At the same time the measure will create a lucrative funding stream to pump into new UK recycling capacity for plastics that can be reused. It follows a string of announcements from environment secretary Michael Gove as he stakes out green issues as Conservative political territory, with campaigners encouraged to push for progress in other areas too.

The Independent is campaigning for a 25p “latte levy” on disposable coffee cups, for example, which are almost impossible to recycle effectively. But officials believe the real route to radical change on plastics is the new-look scheme now being devised at Mr Gove’s department.

Since 205, firms creating packaging waste are obliged to buy a “packaging recovery note”, or PRN, to offset the cost of dealing with it, with the charge acting as a small incentive to use greener packaging and money raise helping to fund recycling.

But government insiders now want to supercharge the system, with manufacturers who use unrecyclable plastic force to purchase PRNs that cost extreme amounts.

A government source said, “The fact that there are a lot of poor-quality plastics our there is an issue – these are single-use items, not good enough quality to recycle. So the question is, how do you change that to move towards people using better-quality plastics that you can reuse? A key way would be to make the cost of non-recyclable plastic – via PRNs – so exorbitantly high that it effectively drives it out of existence – it would mean that the with the cost of it, it would not be worth using.”

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