Throwaway razors and nappies should be taxed as luxuries, says Defra

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The Independent Online

Disposable razors and nappies could be taxed as luxury goods in order to cut the amount of waste going to landfill, a Government-funded report to ministers has suggested.

In the same way as taxes were applied to discourage the purchase of cigarettes and alcohol, they should apply to disposable goods that cannot be reused or recycled in order to prevent people from buying them as cheap and convenient alternatives to reusable items, the report said. Taxes would also encourage manufacturers to focus on the development of more durable products. If disposable razors were taxed at the same rate as cigarettes – about 80 per cent of the price goes to the Treasury – a single Gillette Mach 3 would leap from £1 to £5.

The report, commissioned from Eunomia Research & Consulting by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), says: "Some products considered 'luxury', such as alcohol and tobacco, have heavy duties on them. If disposable products were categorised in a similar way, they could be subjected to similar duties." The report also advocates new taxes on household rubbish, claiming they could halve the amount of waste each person throws away from 800lbs to 400lbs a year.

It also suggests imposing taxes on disposable items such as paper plates and nappies. Some three billion disposable nappies are thrown away every year in the UK, accounting for 4 per cent of all household waste.

Matthew Sinclair, policy analyst for the TaxPayers' Alliance, told the Sunday Express: "Politicians must stop using environmental concerns as a smokescreen for raising taxes."

The TaxPayers' Alliance recently released a report claiming that families were paying an average of £783 a year in environmental taxes.