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Plastic consultation generates highest response rate in government history

31st August 2018

Cherry Whittaker

A staggering 162,000 responses were received to HM Treasury's consultation seeking views on tackling the single-use plastic issue, which marks the highest government consultation response rate thus far

Launched by Philip Hammond, Chancellor of the Exchequer, this consultation opened on 13 March 2018 and closed on 18 May 2018; a relatively short amount of time and so making the response rate even more significant. The consultation aimed to gather views and evidence around how tax/charges amends could be utilised to effectively minimise single-use plastic waste in the UK, focusing on three key areas in which this could be achieved - reduction of inessential production, increasing plastic reuse and boosting recycling. In addition, the consultation focused on looking at ways we can drive innovation to assist in meeting the aforementioned aims. 

All responses and evidence provided will be taken into consideration by the government when determining the best route to tackle the plastic waste issue going forward. To ensure the correct and most effective action plan is created, the government plan to consider the full supply chain to gain a comprehensive understanding of all perspectives so they are able to make informed decisions.  

The majority of responses received were from the general public, as well as from 222 organisations which included those from the manufacturing, retail and environmental sectors.   

The full summary of the consultation response can be found here, but a few of the key ideas put forward include:

  • motivate an increased use of recycled plastics within manufactured materials
  • encourage more sustainable design of plastic items
  • discourage production of plastic items which are difficult to recycle, eg. carbon black plastics
  • reduce demand for commonly littered single use plastic items, including single-use coffee cups and takeaway boxes
  • implement effective incentives which encourage recycling of waste that is currently incinerated

In addition, Philip Hammond stated "As a government, we have identified several single-use plastic items that require more urgent action by banning or restricting their sale, and we will consult on banning the sale of plastic stemmed cotton buds, plastic coffee stirrers and plastic straws. These policies will feed into the government’s Resources and Waste Strategy, to be published in the Autumn."

New confirmed policies around developing more environmentally friendly products and processes financed by a portion of the revenue gained will be announced by Philip Hammond during the Autumn Budget. We will report on this once the Budget plans have been broadcasted.

In relation to the single-use plastics issue, today (31 August) it has also been announced that Theresa May will be launching a new consultation regarding doubling the current plastic bag levy to 10p and extending this obligation to all retailers, not just large organisations. The consultation will be released later this year and we will provide information on how you can respond to this once the information is available.