Industry figures reacted with enthusiasm to the Budget’s proposed tax on virgin plastics, although some were disappointed that chancellor Philip Hammond failed to go further in using taxation to drive environmental policies.
Hammond proposed a new tax on the manufacture and import of plastic packaging which has less than 30% recycled content.
But he shelved possible taxes on disposable plastic cups and incineration, and was silent on other issues in waste policy other than a £10m fund for local authorities to clean up fly-tipping.
Simon Ellin, chief executive, Recycling Association
“I’m disappointed the 2018 Budget speech didn’t really major on recycling. If ever there was a year for more environmental inclusions, it was this one.
“But we’re happy with the introduction of a tax that requires manufacturers to incorporate 30% recycled content into new plastic packaging.
“The language used in the supporting documentation is also positive. There is a recognition that the decisions made by manufacturers, retailers and others within the supply chain are crucially important to the recyclability of material collected.”
Ray Georgeson, chief executive, Resource Association
“We are delighted to see that the chancellor has heard the arguments in favour of more action to drive the use of recycled materials in plastic packaging.
“A 30% recycled content threshold is a welcome opening proposal which has the effect of being a virgin plastics tax if implemented correctly.”
“Action across the supply chain is needed to address issues of poor quality recyclate from many collection and sorting programmes, the lack of transparency on end destination of recycling which damages public confidence in the recycling process.”
Pat Jennings, head of policy and communications, Chartered Institution of Wastes Management
“The CIWM…has repeatedly pressed for measures to stimulate secondary material markets, particularly to support and increase plastics recycling, where there is a degree of market failure.”
Jeff Rhodes, head of environment and external affairs, Biffa
“The chancellor refused at this stage to go so far as introducing a tax on single-use plastics.
“Although this is a tactic which may lead to some improvement in recycling rates, the conditions placed on this tax mean it simply does not address the larger issues at hand currently prohibiting critical progress.
“Waste producers must bear greater financial responsibility for the design, collection and treatment of plastic products rather than passing costs and problems along the supply chain.”
Richard Kirkman, chief technology and innovation officer, Veolia UK & Ireland
“The tax announced has the potential to ensure recycled content becomes the currency of production.”
Paul Taylor, chief executive, FCC Environment
“We welcome the new tax on the production and import of plastic packaging. This is a step in the right direction, and it’s now time for much more urgent action to deal with the single-use plastic waste problem.
“The UK’s ever-growing capacity gap requires immediate attention – and we do not currently have in place proven technologies that will be able to process our excess waste. In our view, the Government must therefore support the construction of energy-from-waste facilities in the UK.”
Nicholas Pollard, chief executive, Cory Riverside Energy
“It is heartening that the Government has rightly recognised the vital role which energy-from-waste plays in the UK’s waste infrastructure.
“I hope that action will be targeted where it can have the greatest impact, namely by focusing on a fiscal policy that is aimed at reducing single-use plastics and non-recyclable materials.”
Philip Law, director general, British Plastics Federation
“The plastics industry has already set out a vision to minimise plastic entering the sea and to ensure that no plastic packaging goes to landfill by 2030.
“However, we urge caution when it comes to demanding a particular level of recycled content in packaging products because we must ensure the UK has the recycling infrastructure to meet demand.”
Malcolm Waugh, chief executive, Frugalpac
“The Government’s decision not to implement a ‘latte levy’ on throwaway cups is positive news for the burgeoning British recyclable packaging industry. We know that a blanket levy would not have encouraged the widespread use of recyclable packaging and would have been counterproductive in the long term, leading to the importation of vast quantities of cheaper cups from China.”
Max Kanda, managing director, UKWSL
“The £10m assigned to deal with abandoned waste sites in yesterday’s Budget will help to reduce the impact of waste crime on local communities. However, much more must be done to tackle this.
“We were surprised to see the chancellor go cold on the so-called latte tax. A similar mechanism appears to have worked in cutting our use of single-use plastic bags and we believe it had a role to play in reducing the 2.5 billion cups being thrown away every year.”
Charlotte Morton, chief executive, Anaerobic Digestion & Bioresources Association
“We were disappointed that the Budget did not confirm a commitment to introducing universal food waste collections in England or any further funding support to encourage local authorities to introduce these where they haven’t already done so.”
Marcus Gover, chief executive, WRAP
“Along with colleagues from Incpen and the Advisory Committee on Packaging, I led a series of high-level industry discussions on how to reform the current packaging regulatory system earlier in the year. As part of the comprehensive recommendations we submitted to the secretary of state for environment, we highlighted that there could be a case for fiscal disincentives for virgin materials that would stimulate the market for recovered materials.
“I am very pleased, therefore, to see this reflected in the proposal from the chancellor to introduce a new tax to all plastic packaging which doesn’t include at least 30% recycled content. This is aligned with the target in the UK Plastics Pact and could be a powerful additional lever to help achieve this goal.
“The proposal from the Treasury is a radical approach and has the potential to be a game-changer, making the use of 100% virgin plastic the exception rather than the rule, and helping to ensure that we close the loop and move towards a genuinely circular economy for plastics.”
Keith Trower, managing director, Viridor Resource Management
“It is crucial the Government recognises that [the tax on plastic products containing less than 30% recycled content] is an important factor in a range of measures required to allow the UK respond to a growing public demand for a more resource-efficient approach to plastic.
”This is evident in the 2018 Viridor Recycling Index which showed that four in five respondents believed the UK should be finding alternative methods to deal with its own recycling instead of exporting it to other countries.”