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Treasury mulls over packaging taxes

From: Packaging News

Industry bodies have warned the government not to use the tax system to reduce waste from on-the-go packaging.

The response follows a Treasury report indicating that the Treasury could introduce a levy on manufacturers and certain disposable plastic products. The government has also targeted a levy on disposable coffee cups, despite earlier indications that the government would shy away from such a move.

A consultation on how taxes could tackle waste reduction in single-use plastics and promote recycling attracted 162,000 individuals. However, heavyweight industry and retail names also responded including Ball, DS Smith, Tesco, Co-op, McDonald’s and Coca-Cola.

But Martin Kersh, executive director at the Foodservice Packaging Association (FPA), said that consumers “deserve to be made aware that any tax the Treasury imposes will not be used for recycling”.

He added: “The report refers to paper cups but these cups have a very small plastic percentage – just 7%, so it’s misleading to single them out, especially when the UK now has the capacity to recycle every paper cup and industry is working hard to deliver sustainable, workable solutions.   Rather than taxation, what’s needed is the infrastructure to collect them which will be delivered through PRN reform which would see the industry, not the consumer, pay more.”

Speaking to Packaging News, Kersh warned that the business community needed to make its case in the coming months. He said that taxes could have a wider impact on the economy and that a tax on coffee cups could also discourage consumers from buying coffee, hitting independent outlets.

The Paper Cup Alliance added: “It is right that there is such strong interest in increasing recycling levels. However it is important that we ensure that any plans to increase the number of paper cups being recycled are proportionate and do not harm successful UK businesses such as paper cup manufacturers. We have calculated that up to 11,000 jobs could be placed in jeopardy by a potential levy on paper cups.

On a plastic levy, a spokesperson for Veolia said: “We all want to increase the amount the UK recycles and a simple tax incentive could be used to encourage recyclable materials and designs for products and discourage the use of harder to recycle options such as black plastic and polystyrene yogurt pots.

“As a collector, sorter, re-processor and seller of recycled plastics Veolia appreciates the dynamics at play and other important measures will also help. These include clearer labelling – a simple green dot for example – so consumers know what can be easily recycled, a revision of the existing Packaging Recovery Note (PRN) system to remove the advantage given to export, and a simple deposit return system for plastic and aluminium cans.

“The setting of ambitions targets, such as a minimum percentage of recycled content in packaging, will ensure plastic recycling increases dramatically over the next five years to ensure a more circular and sustainable future.”

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