Plastic bottles
Rebecca Wayman

Government declares new plans to 'overhaul' UK's plastic and waste issue

The government has launched several consultations to ‘overhaul’ the waste system, and therefore cut down on plastic pollution.

Building on the government’s Resources and Waste Strategy published in December 2018, the consultations provide detail on plans to make packaging producers pay the full cost of dealing with their waste.

They are also set to introduce a consistent set of materials collected across England from households for recycling, and bringing in a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) for cans and bottles, subject to consultation.

The changes will make up a key part of the government’s upcoming Environment Bill, to be introduced early in the second session of Parliament.

Environment secretary, Michael Gove, said: “We are committed to going further and faster to reduce, reuse, recycle and cut waste. That’s why we are leading the way to move away from being a ‘throw-away’ society and drive up domestic recycling.

“Through our plans we will introduce a tax to boost recycled content in plastic packaging, make producers foot the bill for handling their packaging waste, and end the confusion over household recycling.”

As well as making businesses and manufacturers pay the full cost of recycling or disposing of their packaging waste, householders will see the existing complicated recycling system supposedly ‘simplified’.

A consultation, launched today (February 18), aims to set out clear guidelines for labelling on packaging so consumers know what they can recycle.

These will include separate weekly food waste collections for every household in England and could include free garden waste collections for households with gardens.

The government has also launched its consultation on introducing a tax on plastic packaging, which does not meet a minimum threshold of at least 30 per cent recycled content, subject to consultation, from April 2022.

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, added: “Plastic packaging makes up two-thirds of all the plastic waste that pollutes this country and wreaks havoc on our environment.

“It’s our responsibility to do something about it and that’s why we will introduce a new tax on the producers of plastic packaging that don’t use enough recycled material.

“This action, coupled with the other measures we are bringing in, will help drive up recycling, cut the amount of new plastic being used and protect our environment for future generations.”

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