Published: March 2020 (3 Min Read)


The one word of advice given to Dustin Hoffmann, as Ben, in “The Graduate”.

Mr McGuire’s meaning was not what we would interpret today, but he did forecast its importance.

Last week the new Chancellor announced that a plastic packaging tax would come into force from April 2022 for manufacturers and importers, subject to consultation, to encourage greater use of recycled plastic to tackle the problem of plastic waste and to protect our environment. Companies will be taxed £200 per tonne for all packaging containing less than 30% recycled content.

This follows the imposition of a 5p charge on plastic bags. Sales of plastic bags at the seven biggest retail chains in England have fallen by 90% since the charge was introduced in 2015. Just in the last year, Asda, Marks and Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, The Co-operative Group, Tesco, and Waitrose sold 490 million fewer single-use plastic bags than over the previous year.[i]

The data also reveals how 5p plastic bag sales have contributed around £169 million towards charities and other good causes since the charge was introduced, with more than £22 million raised in 2018/19 alone.

This is not the only initiative launched by the UK to tackle plastic waste: the government also approved a ban on microbeads in 2018[ii]; and last year the Government confirmed that a ban on the supply of plastic straws, drinks stirrers and cotton buds will come into force in April 2020.[iii]

Many people would argue that the UK should be moving faster, but progress is progress. With many of the changes people seek to protect our environment, we need to remember that a transition from the status quo to a new norm takes time.

But this does not mean everyone moves at the same speed!

In Kenya you can be jailed for 4 years for simply carrying a plastic bag!