MPs have called for a tax on all single-use plastic packaging and also raised concerns that compostable plastics are being introduced without consumers knowing how to dispose of them.
The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee has called on parliament to “lead by example” after calling a fundamental shift away from single use packaging “necessary”.
The plastic packaging tax would apply to packaging with less than 30% recycled content. The committee has called for the tax to be modulated, so that there are lower fees for higher levels of recycled content. In addition, imported, filled packaging should not be exempt from the tax, as the Treasury has proposed.
It has also supported Government proposals to improve the recycling rate with extended producer responsibility, a Deposit Return Scheme and consistency in recycling collections.
The committee found that local authorities should be required to collect an agreed core set of dry materials for recycling. This should make it easier for packaging to be labelled, telling consumers whether that packaging is recyclable or not, thus boosting recycling.
Neil Parish, chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, said: “We all know that plastic pollution of our rivers and seas is a huge problem. However, replacing plastic with other materials isn’t always the best solution, as all materials have an environmental impact.
“My committee is also concerned that compostable plastics have been introduced without the right infrastructure or consumer understanding about how to dispose of them. Fundamentally, substitution is not the answer, and we need to look at ways to cut down on single use packaging.”