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UK government considers tax options to tackle plastic waste

There is a high level of support among UK individuals and businesses to use the tax system to reduce waste from single-use plastics, according to the country’s government.

The announcement comes as the Treasury publishes a summary of responses to its recent call for evidence on how tax can be used to reduce plastic waste.

The call attracted an “unprecedented” 162,000 responses, the highest in the Treasury’s history.

Measures which are being considered include using the tax system to: encourage greater use of recycled plastic in manufacturing rather than new plastic, discourage the use of difficult to recycle plastics, reduce demand for single-use plastics like coffee-cups and takeaway boxes, and encourage further recycling as opposed to incineration.

The government said that the views received will help inform and shape its approach ahead of this year’s budget.

Robert Jenrick, the exchequer secretary to the Treasury, said: “Tackling the scandal of plastic pollution is one of our top priorities and we know the public is right behind us. I’ve been overwhelmed by the public support and the responses we’ve received will be invaluable as we develop our plans for using the tax system to combat this.

“Our duty to leave the environment in a better state than we found it is absolutely clear and what we’ve set out today is another important step to ensuring a cleaner, greener future for Britain.”

The announcement comes months after the UK government refused to introduce a levy on takeaway coffee cups, instead choosing to rely on voluntary discounts for reusable cups.

In January, the Environment Audit Committee put forward a £0.25 levy on the cups, with the money raised used to improve the UK’s recycling infrastructure. It claims that the country throws away 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups a year.