Record breaking consultation reveals British people want the ‘plastic tax’

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Environmentalists are celebrating the mass participation to what was dubbed the ‘plastic-tax consultation’ in the largest response to a call for evidence in the Treasury’s history. Over 220 organisations and 400,000* citizens have responded to the Treasury’s call for evidence on the introduction of tax or charges on single use (throwaway) plastic items.

According to Luca Bonaccorsi, Director of Engagement & Communications at the Marine Conservation Society, who played a primary role in the public campaign:

This astounding response shows that the public cares deeply about this issue. Nearly half a million people have sent a message to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that can’t be ignored: single-use plastic must be reduced using taxes or charges. While we are pleased that the Treasury promises to address all of our demands, which included charging producers for throwaway plastic and using taxes to encourage recycling (i.e. making plastic which is difficult or impossible to recycle more expensive), we now run the risk of having to go through yet another consultation after the 2018 budget. We cannot afford to wait this long, implementation must happen quickly so we can see the start of what would be a huge societal change.”

According to Dr. Laura Foster, Head of Clean Seas at the Marine Conservation Society

We are supportive of the Treasury’s conclusions, but we need to see the shift to implementation. The four key points of tax used to shift demand towards recycled plastic, encourage recycling through better design, taxes and charges for on-the-go items, and greater recycling of waste are all positive statements. The government however, states that it will ‘examine’ taxes or charges on specific items, but the Environmental Audit Committee has already made recommendations on, for instance, coffee cups. With an estimated lorry load of plastic entering the ocean every minute – time is of the essence. 

The evidence from producers saying that they have difficulties sourcing recycled plastic highlights just how broken the system is, given that only one third of plastic food containers in the UK can be recycled. Brands and retailers say that they are responding to consumer demands, but we know that either consumers often have no access to alternatives (either because its not available or prohibitively expensive), or they are unaware that the product is not easily recyclable so do not make an informed choice (e.g. black plastic trays in supermarkets).

We certainly welcome the fact that the report acknowledges that items, where they can be, should be recycled rather than incinerated.”

For more information please visit the Marine Conservation Society website by clicking here.

Nick and Caroline Robertson-Brown

Nick and Caroline Robertson-Brown

Nick and Caroline Robertson-Brown are a husband and wife team of underwater photographers. Both have degrees in environmental biology from Manchester University, with Caroline also having a masters in animal behaviour. Nick is a fellow of the Royal Photographic Society in underwater wildlife photography and he also has a masters in teaching. They are passionate about marine conservation and hope that their images can inspire people to look after the world's seas and oceans. Their Manchester-based company, Frogfish Photography, offers a wide range of services and advice. They offer tuition with their own tailor made course - the Complete Underwater Photography Award. The modules of the course have been written to complement the corresponding chapters in Nick's own book: Underwater Photography Art and Techniques. They also offer equipment sales and underwater photography trips in the UK and abroad. For more information visit www.frogfishphotography.com.

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