British Chancellor Philip Hammond is set to unveil tax on single-use packaging during the budget presentation this week and announce a call for evidence as to how taxes on single-use plastics could be utilized to reduce ocean waste.
The proposed tax is expected to have a major impact on the food sector as it could affect bubble wrap, takeaway food boxes and throwaway coffee cups.
The Treasury will also consider a concurrent consultation by the Environment Department on a deposit return scheme for drinks containers.
However, the tax move has not gone down well with associations such as the Foodservice Packaging Association (FPA) and the British Plastics Federation (BPF).
The FPA termed the move a fish and chips tax and said it was disappointed with the Treasury for not consulting the packaging industry and its customers, including the takeaway and home delivery sectors.
FPA executive director Martin Kersh said: Had they done so, they would be aware the packaging industry and the major brands are seeking a solution for all consumption on the go, which offers a longer term solution rather than the government singling out individual items.
The FPA said the industry is seeking reform of the funding mechanism of the UKs Producer Responsibility system (Packaging Recovery Notes) to enable development of kerbside waste and on-the-go waste management systems to meet the demands of todays consumer.
In a statement, the BPF said: Any interventions from government should involve detailed consultation with all industry stakeholders associated with the supply of food and drink so that they are effective, evidence-based, maximize recycling and minimize the amount of this valuable and recyclable material being lost to the environment, where it can cause harm.
At this point in time, we do not feel that taxation is the best course of action but look forward to continuing constructive dialogue with government.
Only 2% of ocean litter comes from the UK, Europe and the US combined, and the plastics industry has invested in several initiatives to stop plastic from leaking into the environment, the BPF said.
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