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Chancellor considers tax on takeaway boxes and other plastics

More than a million sea birds die annually from eating or getting caught in waste

Sally Hayden
Saturday 18 November 2017 10:45 GMT
Around eight million tons of plastic makes its way into oceans each year
Around eight million tons of plastic makes its way into oceans each year (Getty)

The Government is considering a tax on single-use plastics such as takeaway boxes and other packaging, in a bid to reduce waste.

Chancellor Philip Hammond is expected to announce a call for evidence on how taxes could help to tackle the issue.

However, last month the vice president of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, ruled out a similar tax for the European Union, saying it would “not be sustainable”.

Around eight million tons of plastic makes its way into oceans each year, where it gets eaten by fish or birds. More than a million sea birds and 100,000 sea mammals die annually from getting caught in or swallowing the waste.

The proposed tax would make up part of the Government’s 25-year environment strategy, and comes after the levy on plastic bags.

In July, the Environment Department announced that nine billion fewer plastic bags have been used since the Government introduced the 5p charge.

Responding to the proposed tax, Tisha Brown, oceans campaigner for Greenpeace UK, said: “Ocean plastic pollution is a global emergency, it is everywhere from the Arctic Ocean at top of the world, to the Marianas Trench at the bottom of the Pacific.

“It’s in whales, turtles and 90 per cent of sea birds, and it’s been found in our salt, our tap water and even our beer.

“The Treasury’s announcement is only a statement of intent, but it recognises the significance of the problem and the urgent need for a solution. There is a long way to go, but hopefully this is the beginning of the end for single-use plastic.”

Dr Mike Barrett, World Wildlife Foundation’s director of science and policy, said: “Too often birds, fish, turtles and whales are found dead having eaten plastic. Plastic is suffocating our seas. There is no greater example of the havoc we have on the natural world. Any action to tackle single-use plastic is a good thing, but we must ensure any action is truly ambitious if we want to make the real difference needed to help save the planet.”

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