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A new plastic tax for manufacturers?

A new plastic tax for manufacturers?

October 16, 2018

A waste management agency has suggested that those businesses who rely upon the use of plastic should face additional taxes, in order to slash landfill and fund better recycling.

BusinessWaste.co.uk, which works to help companies increase their recycling targets and divert waste from landfill, has proposed the new tax on businesses who use non-biodegradable materials in either their packaging or products, saying it would “have a twofold effect.”

Not only would it force companies to pass increased costs onto consumers – which would in turn reduce demand for these now more expensive products – but it could also force companies to seek out alternative materials not affected by the tax – meaning firms would be forced to innovate using environmentally-friendly materials.

It is argued that by incentivising research and development into biodegradable materials, a consequence of companies seeking to avoid the prohibitive cost of plastics, the ultimate effect would be reduction in both pollution, and in the amount of waste going to landfill.

BusinessWaste.co.uk claims that non-biodegradable materials are “worrying prevalent in all forms of production,” and that from car manufacturing to packaging on food, consumers are often forced to make environmentally unfriendly choices when it comes to purchasing, due to the lack of variety available.

This is particularly difficult for price-sensitive consumers, who are frequently priced out of being able to make ethical choices. A Guardian article recently explored how plastic-free options in grocery shopping are often more expensive, or – in the case of ‘bring your own jar’ style bulk retailers – difficult to get to without a car, meaning that consumers without a significant disposable income are often forced to choose items packed in non-biodegradable materials.

The new proposal could help to shift this financial burden onto manufacturers and retailers, however, ensuring that hitting big companies in the pocket – via financial incentives to innovate on packaging and materials – will help create more choice for consumers.

It is suggested that the money raised by the tax would be used to fund recycling plants in the UK, in order to ensure the nation is equipped for a society with a higher recycling rate.

 “There are already measures in place which are meant to place responsibility on manufacturers and retailers – a concept called product stewardship,” said Mark Hall, of BusinessWaste.co.uk. “But these measures are clearly not working, as millions of tonnes of plastic and other non-biodegradable items are still being churned out every year.”

Product stewardship is a concept which makes everyone involved in the lifespan of a product responsible for it environmental, health and safety protection – with the United Kingdom currently a member of the Global Product Stewardship Council.

“The Italian and French models for product stewardship are closer to what we believe would be a more effective way of incentivising companies to place packaging and products on the market which are easier to recycle,” continued Hall. “The French model, for example, charges fees which vary depending on how easily recycled the materials used can be.”

He added: “The time is over for endless meetings and conversations about the devastating effects of waste on our environment – governments need to take action and force businesses to take their responsibilities more seriously. A tax being imposed would mean businesses could no longer overlook their environmental effects in favour of profit.”

Categories : World Focus

Tags : Environment Manufacturing Plastic Taxes United Kingdom

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