Producers of plastic packaging who do not make enough recyclable material should face a new tax, the Government proposed as it launched a consultation on its plans to overhaul Britain’s waste system.
A deposit return scheme for cans and bottles and a more consistent, simplified household recycling system are also part of the measures being put forward by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
Ministers believe the planned overhaul could save the UK millions of pounds.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove said the proposals would also make Britain a leader in turning its back on a “throw-away” society.
He said: “Through our plans we will introduce a world-leading tax to boost recycled content in plastic packaging, make producers foot the bill for handling their packaging waste, and end the confusion over household recycling.
“We are committed to cementing our place as a world leader in resource efficiency, so we can be the first generation to leave our environment in a better state than we inherited it.”
The Government will seek views on its plans for 12 weeks.
It is proposing a tax on the production and import of plastic packaging with less than 30% recycled content.
Consultations will centre around the scope of the tax and which businesses will be liable.
It will also seek feedback on how a deposit return scheme on cans and bottles would operate.
One option would target drinks of less than 750ml, intended to be consumed “on-the-go”, while another would target beverages irrespective of size.
Costs of managing packaging waste will be funded through a packaging Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) system that will demand higher fees from producers if their packaging is harder to reuse or recycle.
And in a bid to drive up domestic recycling, the Government plans to introduce a “consistent set of recyclable materials for collection” so the public are clearer on what is or is not suitable.
It comes as Defra figures last week revealed the UK is not on track to meet EU targets to recycle half of household rubbish by 2020.
Figures for 2017 show 45.7% of household waste in the UK was recycled.
Under the Waste Framework Directive, members of the EU must meet a target to recycle 50% of household waste by 2020.
The UK is due to leave the EU on March 29, but Defra said the 2020 target will continue to apply.