Hammond looks for new ways to cut plastic waste

The Chancellor is to launch a public consultation on how the tax system can be used to cut down on single-use plastics.

Philip Hammond will use his first Spring Statement on Tuesday to call for evidence on how to reduce the environmentally damaging waste in similar ways to the plastic bag charge.

In the November Budget he announced plans to use the tax system to help deliver the Government’s target of eliminating avoidable plastic waste by 2042, but next week Mr Hammond will also unveil a £20m innovation fund for businesses and universities to develop new technologies to help achieve the goal.

Mr Hammond said: “Single-use plastics waste is a scourge to our environment. From crisp packets to coffee cups, each year the UK produces millions of tonnes of waste which is neither recyclable nor biodegradable.

“We are determined to create an environment that is fit for future generations. By working with industry, innovators and the public I am confident we can bring about real change.”

Philip Hammond
The Chancellor is to unveil a £20m innovation fund for businesses and universities

It comes after the Government refused to give its backing to calls for a 25p “latte levy” on disposable coffee cups.

The 25p charge was recommended by a cross-party committee of MPs, which said cash raised could pay for improved recycling facilities.

But in its official response to the committee’s report, the Government said only that a charge was “something we could consider amongst other policy options”.

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The Government has also been accused of “dragging its feet” on introducing a deposit return scheme for plastic drinks bottles and kicking the plans “into the long grass”.

The House of Commons’ Environmental Audit Committee claimed the Government had not “adequately acted upon, or responded to” its recommendations in combating the 15 million plastic bottles not recycled in the UK every day.

The new plastic innovation fund announced on Tuesday is expected to be one of the few spending policies in the Spring Statement, which beyond consultations, is expected to be scarce on announcements. Instead Mr Hammond will focus on updating the economic forecasts of the Office for Budget Responsibility.

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Writing in The Sun on Sunday Mr Hammond said: “Thanks to the hard work of the British people, we’re now at a turning point.

“Over the last two quarters we have seen the first signs that productivity growth – the key to higher wages – may be increasing and this year we are forecast to see the beginning of the first sustained fall in debt for a generation. It has been a long road – and there is still work to be done – but I am confident that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

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“This comes at a pivotal moment for Britain. We are preparing to chart a new course in our national story as we embark on a future outside the European Union. This at the very moment that we find ourselves standing at the brink of a technological revolution that is already transforming our economy and the way we live our lives.

“It’s only by embracing these advances and capitalising on the changing nature of the economy, that we will reap the rewards. And we will do so on the solid foundations of a robust economy and public finances well on their way back to good health.”

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