UK Govt Prepares For Tax on Disposable Plastics — While 95 Per Cent of Pollution Comes From Asia, Africa

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Britain’s embattled Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond is expected to announce a punitive anti-plastic tax or levy on disposable items in the Autumn budget in an effort to tackle ocean pollution, but the measure comes shortly after news that Britain — and the Western world — is only responsible for a tiny fraction of the world’s plastic waste.

The Chancellor will announce a “call for evidence” on potential taxes or levies which could be placed on throwaway single-use items like plastic food packaging and takeaway coffee cups reports The Guardian. The move comes a year after the government rolled out a ban on shops providing single-use plastic carrier bags free to customers, leading to a 85 per cent drop in use — equivalent to six billion fewer bags used in one year.

Yet the move to punish British consumers — who already engage in recycling at some of the highest rates in the world — comes just weeks after German academics published research on the sources of plastic waste in the oceans worldwide, showing almost all of marine plastic waste comes from Asia and Africa.

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Ardent remainer Philip Hammond, Theresa May’s Chancellor of the Exchequer / AP IMAGES

According to the study, a remarkable 88-95 per cent of the plastic in the oceans enters it from just ten rivers, which carries the detritus from major cities out to sea. Eight of those rivers are in Asia while two are in Africa reported the Daily Mail at the time of publication, which noted three of the most polluting rivers were all in China.

At a distant 20th place, the largest contributor to ocean plastic waste in the Western world is the United States, but that is dwarfed by the colossal 2.4 million tonnes of plastic released by China annually, around 31 times more than the U.S.

The revelations follow others that China, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines were the world’s worst five nations for dumping plastic into the sea.

Hammond’s move to tax plastics further comes as his Conservative party attempts to appeal to voters beyond their base following a disastrous snap election result and waning popularity. Besides the sop to Britain’s green lobby, Hammond is also expected to deliver giveaways to young voters in the form of interest rate cuts on student loan repayments, and the launch of a so-called millennial railcard, extending the availability of discounted rail fares from 25 to 30 year olds.

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