Chancellor Philip Hammond’s first Spring Statement saw the launch of two major environmental consultations to explore tax measures on plastics and cleaner vans.
This was the first non-budgetary Spring Statement, with all new tax and budget decisions now only to be released in the Autumn, but a number of important announcements were made nonetheless.
Tax on plastic
Philip Hammond launched a consultation to explore how taxes or charges could be used to reduce single-use plastics and immediately backed it with £20 million in R&D funding to support promising innovations.
“[The consultation] will look at the whole supply chain for single use plastics, at alternative materials, reusable options and recycling opportunities. And it will look at how the tax system can help drive the technological progress and behavioural change we need”, Philip Hammond said.
‘Start with design’
It is clear that many industry leaders will be pushing for tax measures on the production and supply of plastics rather than simply focusing on discouraging consumer use.
David Palmer-Jones, chief executive of waste firm SUEZ, said: “Taxation and policy reforms above all should be used to incentivise change and drive innovation starting with design and manufacturer.
"We need a full scale review of the taxation system for packaging that encompasses both plastics, paper, glass and card. Piece meal bans on a few high profile items [such as plastic straws] will capture the public's imagination but we need to capitalise on that goodwill by having a broader and deeper review of what is sustainable and what is not.”
Although the consultation was first announced in the 2017 Autumn Budget, many are concerned that it is an unnecessary delay to urgently required action, especially when there has already been such a promising reaction from leading businesses.
Clean van incentive
Hammond also promised to reduce Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) rates for the cleanest vans to “help the Great British white van driver go green”, having recently made a similar move to incentivise electric taxis.