Climate Action

UK Government announces new plans to transform waste system

The UK Government has launched a number of consultations to target the growing plastic pollution problem.

  • 18 February 2019
  • Rachel Cooper

The UK Government has launched a number of consultations to target the growing plastic pollution problem.

The Government has launched its consultation on introducing a world-leading tax on plastic pollution which does not meet a minimum threshold of at least 30 per cent recycled content.

Michael Gove, Environment Secretary, said: “Through our plans we will introduce a world-leading tax to boost recycled content in plastic packaging, make producers foot the bill for handling their packaging waste, and end the confusion over household recycling. We are committed to cementing our place as a world leader in resource efficiency, so we can be the first generation to leave our environment in a better state than we inherited it.”

The Government is seeking views on introducing a Deposit Return Scheme for cans and bottles, also subject to a consultation.

Reverse vending machines normally offer a 10-20p incentive for each plastic bottle returned and often have a strict guideline on what plastic items they except.

Several UK supermarkets have already trialled the Deposit Bottle Scheme. Reverse vending machines, placed in Iceland stores across the UK, have already earned shoppers over £30,000.

This follows a new report by Policy Connect which found that urgent action needs to be taken by the Government to reduce the growing plastic pollution in the UK.

The report found that the UK has an inefficient recycling system which is adding to the growing plastic pollution. Of the 2,260 thousand tonnes of plastic packaging reported to be placed on the market in 2016, only 1,015 thousand were collected for recycling, found the report.

To help drive-up household recycling levels, the Government will introduce a consistent set of recyclable materials for collection in England, no matter which part of the country people live in.

Commenting on the launch of the new consultations, Greenpeace UK political adviser Sam Chetan-Welsh said: "The good thing about the government plan is that it tries to attack our plastic problem from multiple sides, from forcing producers to take responsibility for their own waste to simplifying and boosting recycling through a deposit-return scheme. But what’s still missing are vital measures to reduce society’s ever increasing use of throwaway plastic. If Michael Gove wants to win the war on plastic waste, he should use the Environment Bill to bring in binding targets to cut the amount of single-use plastic churned out every year and ban unrecyclable plastic."