Philip Hammond and single use plastic

BRITAIN-EU-POLITICS-BREXIT-BUDGET

Philip Hammond is said to be announcing soon a levy on single use plastic* including styrofoam – so often used in take aways. It sounds like I should be jumping up and down for joy and yet I am not quite there….yet.

My Concerns

It will hit the poorest in our society hardest. Single Use Plastic is undoubtedly a MASSIVE issue – it cannot be recycled and here in the U.K. we use enough of the stuff every year in the UK enough 1,000 Royal Albert Halls (Shropshire Star, 2017). Yet, undeniably at most large supermarkets the cheaper fruit and veg is in single use plastic (it is different if you can get to a market – which I would encourage you to do, as this is cheaper). I worry a levy will mean that the extra money will be placed onto consumers, and unfortunately that is going to alter household budgets, perhaps most to those who have the least.  However, charging more on plastic if combined with making loose fruit cheaper or creating alternative brown bag packaging could provide creative solutions to my concerns.

2. It won’t be as effective as getting rid of the tax on plastic bags. The plastic bag tax is widely given as an amazing example of how charging can create change. And yes, this has undoubtedly happened. England used 85% less plastic bags in the first 6 months (Smithers, R., 2016) but bags aren’t the same as food items. Food items are harder to switch in some respects as there are more of them! However, I suspect if this is introduced we will see  a gradual reduction in single use plastic in our shops but this would have to be alongside more non-plastic solutions being introduced. Alternatively, we as the consumer can encourage our large supermarkets to do this or personally re-fall-in-love with the local shop, if that option is a possibility for you. Neither of which would be a terrible thing to have to do – engaging in where and how we buy our food.

Hopes

1. I want this to create less single use plastic and more option of food available in non-plastic packaging because it just makes sense environmentally. Blue Planet 2 has done a fine job of re-iterating the problem we are seeing across the planet because of single use plastic – something has to change.

2. I hope that this would make alternatives to single use plastic a priority for development. I hope, should this announcement be made, that companies begin to prioritise alternative packaging solutions if for no other reason than it now makes economic sense. Anything that forces innovative solutions to planetary issues cannot be written off as a terrible idea – so if that is what happens as a product of this announcement then it’s a good start.

3. Styrofoam is a thing of the past. I know some people really love it and some communities use it as a main source of sharing food but it is terrible for the planet and seems not so good for us either. (Check out Kinhal’s post on the references below for more information). I think takeaways can find far more sustainable alternatives (our local fish and chips does give out take outs in cardboard). For food sharing within families and communities, more options are available.

So what are you hopes, fears and concerns?

References

Kinhal, V. (n.d.) Accessed on 18/11/17 from http://greenliving.lovetoknow.com/How_Styrofoam_is_Bad_for_the_Environment
ShropshireStar (2017) Accessed 18/11/17 from https://www.shropshirestar.com/news/uk-news/2017/11/18/single-use-plastics-could-be-taxed-in-battle-against-waste/#BgYOAm0I4mTs9f4z.99

Smithers, R. (2017) Accessed from the Guardian website on  18/11/17 at https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jul/30/england-plastic-bag-usage-drops-85-per-cent-since-5p-charged-introduced

Image 

Accessed on 18/11/17 from http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/500-more-schools-facing-cuts-new-schoolcutsorg-website-reveals-hammond-naht-neu-more-in-budget_uk_5a0ef9f6e4b0e97dffecf898

Haven’t heard about the story?

Sky News: *https://news.sky.com/story/chancellor-to-announce-plans-in-budget-for-tax-on-single-use-plastic-11130980 – One example of the story, in case you missed it!

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