Retail leaders have issued a warning over rising prices as a result of a tax on single use plastics set to be unveiled in this week’s Budget.
The new tax bombshell would be part of a consultation unveiled by Philip Hammond, Treasury sources told the national press over the weekend.
The BRC said the plans could add millions to the cost of household shopping at a time when families were already struggling.
The proposals come on top of plans for the introduction of a deposit return scheme for all bottles, which is already being considered by ministers.
Two years after the introduction of a 5p charge for single-use plastic bags, the Conservative government is again turning to environmental measures for a flagship policy.
Sources told the press the “call for evidence” would look at how taxes or other charges on single-use plastics such as takeaway cartons and packaging could reduce the impact of discarded waste on marine and bird life. They are said to have cited the estimated 12 million tonnes of plastic entering the oceans each year, and that residues are routinely found in fish, sea birds and marine mammals.
“If true, this proposal begs a number of questions about the scope of the proposed levy, the timeframe for introducing it, what ministers hope to do with the receipts, and the impact on consumers and businesses,” said a BRC spokesman.
“Presumably this levy will push up prices to the tune of millions of pounds at a time when household finances are already under strain. We look to government to take a more comprehensive approach to waste, recycling and the circular economy, of which single-use plastics and drinks bottles are but one component. “Decisions on specific products need to be taken in the context of the circular economy where all resources are valued and reused. We still await Defra’s 25 Year Environment Plan and a waste and resources strategy. What is needed is a broader, coherent approach rather than numerous piecemeal announcements and initiatives.”