We have covered the problem of plastic waste in some previous articles. It has always been our opinion that the only viable option is to reserve the use of plastics for only those purposes where it really matters. The home truth is that the plastic packaging which wraps our foodstuffs and packages up our products is manufactured waste and that is the crux of the overuse problem.
A new Plastic Packaging Tax comes into force from April 2022 in an attempt by Government to reduce the amount of virgin plastic found in packaging. According to the policy paper, this new tax will apply to plastic packaging manufactured in, or imported into the UK, that does not contain at least 30% recycled plastic.
Sounds good to us…. Only that’s not the whole story….
Reading further through the policy paper we learn there will be an exemption for manufacturers and importers of less than 10 tonnes of plastic packaging per year.
We ask, why?
A quick calculation here in the office reveals that 10 tonnes of 20 micron cellophane (used as an inner wrap for many foodstuff packaging) is equivalent to an 88 acre sheet of cellophane – that’s an area 1.5 times the size of The Royal Park of St James in London, or 55 St James’s Park football stadiums!
Now whilst 10 tonnes of plastic isn’t a huge amount when you consider the scale of the global plastic problem, 88 acres spreads very finely when you think of it as a single sheet of a material we are all familiar with. This imaginary sheet is almost enough to cellophane wrap the pitches of the English Premier League football clubs three times over.
The legislation tries to mitigate against disproportionate administrative burdens and has set the lower limit of ten tonnes but we ask why not tax all packaging manufacturers on a sliding scale getting proportionately higher depending on the total. Let’s face facts, plastic is never properly recycled, so the only solution is to prevent its manufacture and ringfence the taxation specifically for recovery and treatment of plastics already loose in the environment.
This approach would have ensured that every company producing, importing and buying plastic packaging would have an incentive to cut their usage and pay for its clean up. This should leave high quality virgin plastic available to meet the compliance demands of manufacturing in industries like medical, industrial, aeronautical and thousands of other important applications.