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Rubbish in landfill site

The Plastic Packaging Tax & Why We Need to Go Eco


April of this year will see a much awaited, sorely needed tax on plastic packaging. We’ve been a vocal supporter of sustainable solutions (and even plastic, when used correctly!) for packaging & industry because of the colossal damage that waste is wreaking on environments. 

We depend not only on the environments we immediately live in but also the much larger environments around them – the modern town is not able to sustain itself without the complex web of support that it needs, both regionally and globally.

What is the Plastic Packaging Tax?

The Plastic Packaging Tax will apply to organisations who import or manufacture 10 or more tonnes of packaging per year. In essence, packaging made with less than 30% recycled plastic will incur a fine of £200 per tonne. This forces packaging companies to either ditch plastic in their packaging, use more (or entirely) recycled plastic, or raise their prices to counteract the fine.

While the price hike is the most likely outcome in the short term, it should have the effect of levelling the playing field between eco-friendly and non-eco packaging solutions. After all, packaging that makes heavy use of plastic has a significant head-start when it comes to economies of scale.

The current perception of eco products being higher priced has more to do with their current lack of scale rather than that they are inherently more expensive. Hopefully, this tax will do much to get rid of that perception.

In the longer term, therefore, the tax should help to change perceptions and encourage sustainable solutions from the outset.

Why we need to go eco

Every day, we rely on an endlessly complex web of infrastructure, supply, support, and movement. 

Living in a town may distance us from the problems of environmental degradation but it doesn’t stop those problems affecting us. It’s easy, for example, to feel like declining insect populations don’t affect us (they’re a pest in the home, after all) – but we miss the true problem if we don’t come to terms with how much we depend on them to pollinate the plants we rely on.

Likewise, it’s easy to look the other way when it comes to deforestation, rising sea levels, or species extinction, and think “I’m alright, Jack” because those things happen ‘elsewhere’. But our ignorance is complicity, and our actions in industry in particular are directly creating these problems – sooner or later, these problems will come home too.

That is, when we replace the biodiversity of rainforests with single crops, there’s less effective carbon capture, oxygen production decreases, and the wildlife that depends on the biodiversity of the rainforest (for food & shelter) falters. In turn, the benefits that we reap from healthy rainforests are lost. 

In short, we shouldn’t take for granted that we know how any particular environmental change will affect other environments because the web of dependence is so complex.

Waste is Karma

All this is to say that it’s worth thinking about non-recyclable waste in a similar way to Karma: the more waste we create, the more it’s going to come back to bite us in the backside! 

So a swift transition into a low-plastic, low-waste future is gladly welcomed.

31 January 2022

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