Single-use plastics: Where does the responsibility lie?
2 November 2018
Industry comment on the UK Budget 2018
During a consultation exercise this year, the public backed plans to reduce single-use plastic cups, packaging and cutlery. This sentiment was amplified in Chancellor Phillip Hammond’s Budget announcement, in which he introduced a new tax on single-use plastic. However, a tax which increases costs for the consumer does not provide a viable solution to issue. The responsibility should lie with food manufacturers.
Unlike some reports suggest, a shift from plastic packaging does not require masses of innovation — viable alternatives are already available. Materials like glass and aluminium are indefinitely recyclable, yet are widely underused. There is a common misconception that alternative materials cannot provide the same protection as plastic, but that is untrue. Smoothwall foil trays, for instance, can be gas flushed or vacuum packed, extending the shelf-life of products far more effectively than plastic.
Public efforts, such as the surge in effort to reduce the use of straws in pubs and restaurants, are valiant. However, the real change of Britain’s environmental impact will occur when the food manufacturers — those that stock our supermarket shelves with plastic-wrapped products — take action and make use of existing alternatives.
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