Britain is pressing ahead with the world’s first plastic tax. It will hit plastic manufacturers that fail to include 30 percent recycled content. It will also provide a huge boost to the recycling industry by massively increasing demand for recycled plastic.

Treasury Secretary Robert Jenrick said: ‘Every single day we’re all polluting the planet with items that can’t be recycled. In the UK alone, we buy 2 million tonnes of plastic each year. Less than half of that is recycled, and the rest goes straight into landfill, some of which makes its way into our seas and oceans, and harms marine life. We can’t go on like this.’

Dumping half of all the plastic sold in the UK threatens the natural world as well as being a huge waste of resources, according to Treasury research. The need to make use of plastic waste comes as China closes its doors to the bulk of British plastic waste – making it all the more urgent that we find ways to deal with it in the UK.

Mr Jenrick said: ‘I’ve seen it for myself when I’ve joined groups like Surfers Against Sewage on our beaches. We must play our part in tackling plastic waste and, as one of the most innovative countries on earth, we need to focus the power of the market on this challenge. That’s why the Treasury has consulted on how we can introduce a tax on the producers of plastic packaging containing less than 30 per cent recycled material. Our aim is not to raise money for the Exchequer, but to spur business to invent and deploy better products.’

Chancellor Philip Hammond promised last year that the Government would stop millions of tonnes of plastic going to landfill or incineration each year by introducing the tax. He said the levy was inspired by Sir David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II, which had ‘woken people up to the issue of plastics’ and would make the UK ‘a world leader in tackling the scourge of plastic littering our planet and our oceans’.

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