Extend carbon tax to clothing and electricals to reach net zero, No 10 told


Behavioural Insights Team’s (BIT) new report calls on the government to extend the UK carbon tax to incorporate consumables, such as clothing, electricals and household goods, to achieve net zero.

The report, “How to build a Net Zero society”, presents over 20 policy recommendations.

A survey by BIT included in the report found that 73% of people backed extending carbon levies to consumables so that prices “reflect environmental impacts”.

The section of the report titled “Greening consumption: waste and circular economy”, recommends that the government must greatly simplify recycling standards and labels, and explore “novel behavioural strategies”.

The report states that the “evidence” shows “significant confusion” around recyclability. As a solution, the BIT advises that prominent “recycle me” labels on the front of packaging are effective.

The organisation also calls for the government to explore the use of a lottery-based deposit return scheme, where consumers have the chance of winning a cash prize draw upon returning an item.

The BIT’s survey also found that 77% of people are willing to choose more sustainable products, 79% are willing to repair and reuse and 90% are willing to recycle.

Our new research now shows that it (net zero) is also backed by huge public demand.

The report also calls for the government to encourage greater repairability and re-use of appliances and other items.

Forthcoming “right to repair” legislation may help, but there is a need to regulate against excessive costs or consumer friction for spares and repairs (and consider making repairs VAT-free) to ensure most typical repairs are cheaper than buying a replacement and easy to do, the report says.

It also recommends that the government should regulate advertising and greenwashing.

Alongside these recommendations, the BIT says that businesses, local authorities and other organisations additionally could create easily accessible, local hubs which can host a variety of circular economy initiatives.

Examples of potential initiatives the BIT cites are “appliance libraries”, repair shops or repair skills classes.

The BIT says that businesses need to transition to more circular consumption models, including takeback schemes, refillable containers, rental models and modular products which can be more easily repaired and upgraded.

The BIT says the report finds “broad and deep support” from the UK public for a wide range of specific policy recommendations to enable them to make sustainable choices and help play their part in reaching Net Zero.

People want strong leadership from government and business to make it much easier to be green.

Key findings from this new research include that 88% of people in the UK would like to make more sustainable choices if they could and 88% feel it’s too hard to make sustainable choices because of high costs, inconvenience, limited knowledge or other barriers.

Other findings include 86% of people wish leadership on the environment (from government and businesses) was stronger and 86% would like government and businesses to do more to help make more sustainable choices.

Commenting on its publication, Toby Park, BIT’s Head of Energy, Environment & Sustainability and the report’s lead author, said: “Delivering Net Zero is not only a moral and legal obligation in the UK but this week the government’s own review reaffirmed that it’s the biggest growth opportunity of the 21st century.

“Our new research now shows that it is also backed by huge public demand. Our data clearly show that people want to live more sustainably but we also know that many people face a wide range of convenience, cost, knowledge or accessibility barriers to some of the bigger changes ahead of us. That’s why people want strong leadership from government and business to make it much easier to be green.”

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