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Public 'back' taxes to tackle single-use plastic waste

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There is high public support for using the tax system to reduce waste from single-use plastics, the Treasury says.

A consultation on how taxes could tackle the rising problem and promote recycling attracted 162,000 responses.

Treasury Minister Robert Jenrick said the government was looking at “smart, intelligent incentives” to get plastic producers to take responsibility.

Reports suggest a levy on manufacturers and some disposable plastic products may be introduced in the Budget.

It could see new measures introduced, such as a tax on single-use coffee cups.

In January, MPs on the Environmental Audit Committee called for so-called “latte levy” on disposable cups, after the Environmental Audit Committee revealed about 2.5bn coffee cups were disposed every year.

Committee chairwomen Mary Creagh said: “Almost none are recycled and half a million a day are littered. Coffee cup producers and distributors have not taken action to rectify this and government has sat on its hands.”

Other areas that could be impacted include takeaway boxes. This month it was revealed that most plastic food containers in shops cannot be recycled.

Mr Jenrick said: “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.

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Media captionFive ways to break up with plastic

“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 Treasury said it wanted to encourage greater use of recycled plastic in manufacturing, discourage using plastics that are difficult to recycle – like carbon black plastic – as well as single-use items.

Campaign group Surfers Against Sewage’s Hugo Tagholm said: “This is a clear indication of the public appetite for more fiscal interventions to help reduce plastic pollution littering our environment, from inner-city streets and countryside to our oceans.”

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