Plastics recycled content tax gets the thumbs-up

31st October 2018 | Recycling

Chancellor Philip Hammond’s star Budget environmental measure of tax on plastic packaging, which uses less than 30% recycled content, has generally been welcomes by the recycling sector, with responses ranging from “game-changer” to “caution”. Marcus Gover, chief executive of the WRAP charity which is part-funded by Defra, described the Treasury approach as “radical” with the potential to be a “game-changer”.

And, Mr Gover indicated that he expects the forthcoming Resources and Waste Strategy to be closely aligned with the fiscal measure proposed by the Chancellor. The plastics 30% tax, which is likely to come into force in 2022, was backed by the UK’s waste sector with its trade body, the Environmental Services Association (ESA) welcoming the measure and pointing that it prefers the tax as a drive to recycling rather than penalties such as an incineration tax.

Recycled content

ESA executive director, Jake Hayler, said, “Without stimulating the demand for recycled material, higher recycling rates will be unachievable. We are pleased that the Treasury has recognised that this is the most effective way to ensure the right incentives are in place for recycling.”

The view from the Resource Association was measured, with chief executive Ray Georgeson remarking that “a 30% recycled content threshold is a welcome opening proposal which has the effect of being a virgin plastics tax if implemented correctly … but not necessarily appropriate for other materials.” And Mr Georgeson reasoned that creating demand for recycled material is not just about the fiscal incentive: “Action across the supply chain is needed to address issues of poor quality recyclate from many collection and sorting programmes”.

Simon Ellin, chief executive of the Recycling Association, said, “We’re happy with the introduction of a tax that requires manufacturers to incorporate 30% recycled content into new plastic packaging.” And, Mr Ellin also called for the tax to be “earmarked to boost recycling used to bring uniformity into local authority collections, making it easier for everyone to achieve better results.”

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