During the Autumn budget, Philip Hammond announced a call for evidence on taxation for single-use plastics in a move to help prevent pollution in the world’s oceans. The Chancellor made the announcement after revealing tax incentives for electric car drivers.
The Chancellor said the UK led the world on climate change agreements and is a pioneer in protecting marine environments. He wants the UK to become a global leader in tackling, what he called, the ‘scourge of plastic pollution littering our planet and our oceans’.
“I will investigate how the tax system and charges on single-use plastic items can reduce waste because we cannot keep our promise to the next generation to build an economy fit for the future, unless we ensure our planet has a future”
It is estimated a truckload of litter enters the ocean every minute with plastic affecting every ocean in the world. More than a million sea birds and 100,000 sea mammals die annually from getting caught in, or consuming ocean waste. In the UK, the litter on our beaches has doubled in the last 20 years.
This growing plastic crisis has recently been brought to the limelight with the Sky Ocean Rescue awareness campaign, a social media viral video showing a whale starved to death due to its stomach being full of carrier bags and the BBC’s Blue Planet II, in which Sir David Attenborough described the “heart-breaking” sight of an albatross feeding plastic to its young chick instead of fish”
What can you do to help the ocean?
- Use a home water filter and a reusable drinks container instead of buying bottled water
- Take a reusable take-away mug with you to coffee establishments and ask them to fill it
- Do not use straws, sip drinks instead.
- Avoid plastic bags entirely. Buy a re-usable bag and take it everywhere with you.
- Avoid plastic ready meals and opt for home cooking instead.
- Purchase fruit, veg and cooking ingredients in paper bags, or buy them loose.
- Choose natural toothbrushes, hairbrushes and cotton buds which biodegrade naturally
- Get involved in a local beach clean up
- Donate to the Marine Conservation Society
According to the Government, the amount of single-use plastic wasted every year in the UK is enough to fill 1,000 Royal Albert Halls with one in three fish caught in the English Channel containing pieces of plastic. This means human consumption through the food chain with plastic being found in our salt, tap water and fish.
The call to solve the problem of single-use plastics including packaging, bubble wrap and polystyrene boxes has been welcomed by UK environmental organisations. MCS Chief Executive says: “The evidence is already there to show that our oceans are choking in plastic. We’ve seen how a small charge has made a big difference with plastic carrier bags, and applying this to throwaway plastics more widely would lead to a significant drop in other waste plastics getting into our streets, rivers and seas.”
The MCS Senior Pollution Policy Officer added “a Deposit Refund System brought in for drinks containers is needed and a complete rethink on how we design products, so the end of their life isn’t after a single use but we re-use, recycle and reduce”
The move forms part of the Government’s 25-year environment strategy and comes after the ban on microbeads and the plastic carrier bag levy, in which nine billion fewer plastic bags have been used since the introduction of the 5p charge.
Sources: the Independent and The MSC