News

November 6, 2018

UK Announces Plastic Packaging Tax, Expands Commonwealth Clean Ocean Alliance

News Source: SDG Knowledge Hub

Author(s): Catherine Benson Wahlén

30 October 2018: The Government of the UK has announced a tax on plastic packaging. The tax will apply to any business that produces or imports plastic packaging that does not contain at least 30 percent recycled content.

The Government of the UK proposed the new tax in its autumn Budget. Revenues from the tax will be used to address single-use plastics, waste and litter. In addition, the UK announced 20 million pounds in funding to increase recycling and combat plastic waste.

The announcement follows the UK’s ban on plastic straws, drink stirrers and cotton buds as part of a growing effort to decrease the country’s plastic pollution and protect its rivers and seas. According to the UK Government, it is estimated that England uses 4.7 billion plastic straws, 316 million plastic stirrers and 1.8 billion plastic-stemmed cotton buds annually. These single-use items are only used for a few minutes but take hundreds of years to break down, contributing to millions of pounds annually for local governments in clean up costs.

England uses 4.7 billion plastic straws, 316 million plastic stirrers and 1.8 billion plastic-stemmed cotton buds annually.

In a press release, the Government of the UK stated that the ban on plastic straws, drink stirrers and cotton buds follows its success in charging for single-use plastic bags, which has resulted in an 86 percent decrease in plastic bag distribution in supermarkets, and its ban on microbeads.

Also on tackling plastic pollution, UK Prime Minister Theresa May announced that the Gambia, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles and Sierra Leone have joined the Commonwealth Clean Ocean Alliance. The Alliance seeks to engage countries across the Commonwealth in the fight against plastic, whether it is by decreasing the use of single-use plastic bags, banning microbeads or taking additional steps to eliminate single-use plastic. The Alliance aims to drive action on SDG 14 (life below water) and to encourage other Commonwealth countries to sign up to and implement international agreements to protect the ocean, including the UN Clean Seas campaign, the Global Ghost Gear Initiative and the London Protocol.