Whilst initially a revolutionary invention, plastic has now become one of the world’s biggest problems. Plastics pose a threat to the environment and have even led to the death of many sea creatures that have accidentally consumed the plastic trash in the seas. But what can we do about this major problem?
Well, the UK government has decided that imposing a plastic packaging tax is one way to mitigate the issue. But is it the solution we need for our major plastic problem?
How Does Plastic Packaging Affect the Environment?
Before we discuss the UK plastic packaging tax, let’s first try to understand the reasoning behind it. When plastic packaging is thrown into the oceans or buried in landfills, it takes hundreds of years to decompose. Even worse, our landfills are unable to contain massive amounts of plastic waste, which has led to the spread of plastic trash in the environment.
According to a report published by the UN, there are currently over 150 million tonnes of plastic in the oceans. The wind can easily carry plastic trash over to the land, leading to a significant plastic waste problem.
But aside from this problem, plastic waste will have other environmental consequences as well. For one, plastic trash can easily absorb toxins in the environment. Once ingested, the toxins will affect our liver and kidneys and even cause other more serious health conditions in the long run.
But the problem doesn’t stop here. The plastic waste that makes its way into the oceans can also find its way into the sea animals’ guts. As a result, the animals will inadvertently digest the plastic trash and the toxins it contains. Unfortunately, this has led to the death of many sea creatures due to the plastic that has made its way into the ocean.
The UK Plastics Industry Seeks to Improve the Plastic Waste Problem
In this regard, the plastic packaging tax is intended to curb the problem of plastic waste by encouraging the use of less-damaging plastic packaging. In fact, under the proposed tax, the UK government will impose a tax on all plastic packaging that negatively contributes to the environment.
In addition, this tax will also help fund more extensive recycling initiatives, which will help to ensure that plastic waste doesn’t make its way into the environment. The government’s goal is to reduce the UK’s plastic use by 50 per cent within the next 25 years.
What Types of Plastic Packaging Will Be Subject to Tax?
Under the proposed plastic packaging tax, there will be five different categories of plastic packaging. These categories will include items such as plastic electrical equipment and packaging and plastic fishing nets.
In addition, plastic pollution is becoming a serious issue even in your backyard. As a result, plastic items such as disposable plastic cups, cutlery, and takeaway boxes will also be subject to the proposed tax.
However, glass packaging will be exempt from the proposed tax. This is because glass packaging is more durable and doesn’t pose the same threat to the environment as plastic does.
According to a report by the BBC, the UK government will impose a tax of 40 cents (30 pence) on every plastic bag purchased. That’s an 80 per cent increase from the current 5p plastic bag tax.
Plastic Tax Could Lead to More Harm than Good
While the UK plastic packaging tax sounds like a good solution to the plastic problem, it could make things worse. One major problem with this tax is that it’s likely to increase the cost of packaging. For example, the cost of plastic beer bottles will likely shoot up
But this increase in the cost of plastic packaging will likely lead to more packaging waste. For example, instead of buying one big plastic bottle of beer, customers will likely buy multiple smaller bottles that are cheaper. This would mean that customers have more plastic packaging to deal with.
As a result, the tax could lead to more plastic being thrown into the environment, which in turn could lead to more plastic pollution in the environment. On top of that, the tax may not even reduce the amount of plastic waste in the oceans. That’s because the plastic tax can lead to an increase in waste that isn’t subject to the tax.
What’s even worse is that, in some cases, the plastic industry may not even be able to handle the tax. And if that happens, the plastic industry could be forced to curtail its operations, which could lead to thousands of people losing their jobs.
In this regard, it would be better to just ban the most damaging plastics and to find a better solution to curb the plastic problem.
Would Banning Plastics Entirely Be a Better Solution?
A ban on plastic packaging is a much better solution than imposing a plastic tax. This is because a ban on plastic packaging would have a single purpose: to ban the use of plastic packaging.
In this regard, a ban on plastic packaging can focus on specific types of plastic packaging that are the most damaging to the environment. Additionally, the ban would be able to cover all plastic packaging, instead of only the types of plastic packaging that would be subject to a tax.
But a ban on plastic packaging can also limit the damage to the UK’s plastic industry. For example, if plastic bags were banned, shoppers could switch to paper bags which would be cheaper and more environmentally friendly.
The UK government should follow the lead of China, which has imposed a ban on single-use plastic bags. Through this ban, the Chinese government has managed to reduce the number of plastic bags in its landfills.
The plastic packaging tax is a step in the right direction. But it won’t fix the main problem that all of us need to deal with, which is the amount of plastic being thrown into the environment. What we should do instead is to ban the types of plastic packaging that are the most damaging to the environment. This will lead to less plastic being used, which would ultimately lead to a reduction in the amount of plastic waste in the environment.
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