Businesses who use plastic and other non-biodegradable materials should be taxed to slash landfill use, says waste management agency
Implementing a tax on businesses who use non-biodegradable materials in either their packaging or products themselves would have a twofold effect, BusinessWaste.co.uk argue. Firstly it would force companies to pass increased costs onto consumers, which would in turn reduce demand for these now more expensive products.
Additionally, it could force companies to seek out alternative materials not affected by the tax – meaning firms would be forced to innovate using environmentally-friendly materials. By incentivising research and development into biodegradable materials – as companies seek to avoid the prohibitive cost of plastics – would ultimately reduce pollution and the amount of waste going to landfill.
Non-biodegradable materials are worrying prevalent in all forms of production – from car manufacture to packaging on food, consumers are often forced to make environmentally unfriendly choices when it comes to purchasing due to the lack of variety available.
This is particularly difficult for price-sensitive consumers, who are frequently priced out of being able to make ethical choices. A Guardian article recently explored how plastic-free options in grocery shopping are often more expensive, or – in the case of ‘bring your own jar’ style bulk retailers – difficult to get to without a car, meaning that consumers without a significant disposable income are often forced to choose items packed in non-biodegradable materials.
Business Waste’s proposal will help to shift this financial burden onto manufacturers and retailers, however, ensuring that hitting big companies where it hurts – with financial incentives to innovate on packaging and materials – will help create more choice for consumers.
The money raised by the tax would be used to fund recycling plants in the UK, in order to ensure the nation is equipped for a society with a higher recycling rate.
Mark Hall, spokesperson for BusinessWaste.co.uk, said: “There are already measures in place which are meant to place responsibility on manufacturers and retailers – a concept called product stewardship. But these measures are clearly not working, as millions of tonnes of plastic and other non-biodegradable items are still being churned out every year.”
Product stewardship, which is a concept which makes everyone involved in the lifespan of a product responsible for it environmental, health and safety protection – with the United Kingdom a member of the Global Product Stewardship Council. However, BusinessWaste.co.uk believe change needs to happen more quickly.
Mark Hall concluded: “The Italian and French models for product stewardship are closer to what we believe would be a more effective way of incentivising companies to place packaging and products on the market which are easier to recycle – the French model, for example, charges fees which vary depending on how easily recycled the materials used can be.
“The time is over for endless meetings and conversations about the devastating effects of waste on our environment – governments need to take action and force businesses to take their responsibilities more seriously. A tax being imposed would mean businesses could no longer overlook their environmental effects in favour of profit.”