The Potential for a Plastic Bottle Tax?
We’ve already seen a plastic bag tax introduced across the whole of the United Kingdom with great success, with the amount of single use carrier bags in circulation being reduced massively, which can only lead to a positive impact on the environment.
So what could be next?
Plastic bottles have long been a plague in our oceans and on our beaches, so it’s unsurprising that they were the next port of call when the government comes to figuring out how to ensure the UK causes less damage to our planet. Back in January it was confirmed that ministers were considering some kind of scheme to cut down on the amount of plastic bottles that end up in landfill as well as entering the sea.
The idea has already been tested in Scotland, and sees customers being charged an extra 10p or 20p for every plastic bottle or container they buy, which they can then reclaim if they return the plastic to be recycled as part of a deposit return scheme. This is the way the 5p bag tax was gradually introduced throughout the UK and so if all goes well, would have a lot of sway in determining if the scheme comes through to England.
Despite support from some of the government, there are also some reservations regarding the scheme and the cost it would take to set up. However, last year we saw figures from Elena Sautkina, an environmental psychology expert, who published research showing that since the plastic bag charge, support for a plastic bottle scheme has increased. There is thought to be ‘strong support’ for this kind of scheme, from 39% of voters in England, 50% in Wales and 34% in Scotland.
But will this kind of scheme motivate customers to stop using so many plastic bottles? Will the deposit return idea actually encourage people to recycle their plastic properly? Or will it just end up costing all of us more money without really having a positive impact?
Conservative MP Will Quince thinks the latter – he’s concerned that the idea of a deposit return scheme could punish consumers who are already doing the right thing and doing their recycling properly by simply leaving them out pocket with this extra charge. Reports from Scotland where the scheme have been tested confirm this – the amount of money that could be lost by customers if they don’t return the bottles could end up being millions of pounds.
The latest developments show that the charge may be less likely than first thought – although there is support for it and it hasn’t been taken off the table entirely, according to the Daily Mail, a source from the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has said that the policy is ‘unlikely’. Despite this, environmental campaigners are still pushing for it to go ahead, and we might see an adapted form of this scheme in the future which is better suited to consumers as well as tackling the environmental issues that are undoubtedly caused by the amount of plastic bottles we throw away.
How would you respond to the news of a plastic bottle tax? Let us know!