According to reports by Reuters, HM Treasury said Hammond intends to announce a consultation on “taxing” single-use plastics, which includes “packaging and bubble wrap, polystyrene takeaway boxes and throwaway coffee cups”.
The Treasury said the move would build on the introduction of charges for plastic bags, which has led to an 80 percent reduction in UK plastic bag use since 2015.
“The Chancellor is expected to announce in the budget that this work will specifically look at taxes and charges to help prevent pollution, and protect the environment”
“The Chancellor is expected to announce in the budget that this work will specifically look at taxes and charges to help prevent pollution, and protect the environment,” it said.
The consultation is expected to launch in the new year and will take into account another government consultation on deposit return schemes for drinks containers.
The announcement did not suggest the investigation would include plastic bottles, which can be recycled, although in practice many also end up in land-fill or the sea.
Tisha Brown, oceans campaigner for Greenpeace UK, said the move “recognises the significance of the problem and the urgent need for a solution.”
The news follow published figures that shows the number of litter items found on the sea floor around the UK has risen 150% in a year.
More than 8m tonnes of plastic are discarded into the world’s oceans each year, putting marine wildlife under serious threat.
Up to 80% of this is estimated to have been originally lost or discarded on land before washing out to sea, and plastic bottles are a particular concern, Defra says – with figures showing just 57% of those sold in the UK in 2016 collected for recycling.
David Palmer-Jones, CEO of SUEZ recycling and recovery UK, commented on the news: “We welcome any government initiative which seeks to drive down the use of single-use plastics in favour of more sustainable, recyclable, forms of packaging and products.
“This is a vital step towards achieving a more resource-efficient society and encouraging producers to take more responsibility.
“An extended producer responsibility regime should address all forms of resource usage, materials and packaging production, and their collection, reuse and recycling across the supply chain.”