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Historic plastics treaty agreed as packaging tax comes into force

175 countries have agreed to forge a legally-binding treaty to end plastic pollution, while tens of thousands of UK businesses prepare for a new £200-per-tonne tax on plastic packaging from April.


175 countries have agreed to forge a legally-binding treaty to end plastic pollution, while tens of thousands of UK businesses prepare for a new £200-per-tonne tax on plastic packaging from April.

Described as one of the most significant environmental accords in history, UN members have agreed for the first time to introduce an international legally-binding instrument by the end of 2024 to promote and mandate the sustainable production and consumption of plastics.

Heads of state, ministers and representatives from almost every country on the planet endorsed the resolution, which could lead to global rules across the entire lifecycle of plastics - from product design and production through to use and waste management.

Closing an ‘ugly chapter’

Nearly 350 million tonnes of plastic were produced in 2017 and the industry is expected to double in capacity by 2040. If unmanaged, this could triple the already catastrophic volume of plastic waste flowing into the oceans.

Lord Zac Goldsmith, UK minister for international environment, said the resolution was “truly historic”.

“In the space of just one human lifetime, we have caused unimaginable damage to the global environment, choking every single part of the global ocean with plastic pollution. And although there is much to be done now to turn it into an ambitious and far-reaching treaty, we can now begin to close this ugly chapter.”

Plastic Packaging Tax 

The agreement comes shortly ahead of the introduction of the UK’s new wide-ranging Plastic Packaging Tax, which incentivises businesses to use more recycled plastic in their packaging or reduce packaging altogether.

From 1 April 2022, most plastic packaging produced or imported into the UK which contains less than 30 per cent recycled plastic will be taxed at a rate of £200 per tonne. The tax applies not only to most manufacturers of finished packaging, but also to companies importing 10 or more tonnes of packaging per year, regardless of whether the packaging is filled or not.

Support in Greater Manchester

Greater Manchester SMEs can access expert support to design out packaging from their products and reduce their liability for the Plastic Packaging Tax from the Hub’s Resource Efficiency Team.

The University of Manchester’s Sustainable Materials Innovation (SMI) Hub has also launched its own ‘Unpack the Tax’ programme to help local companies.

 


 

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