UK may tax single-use plastic to reduce ocean pollution

“Ocean plastic pollution is a global emergency, it is everywhere from the Arctic Ocean at the top of the world to the Marianas trench at the bottom of the Pacific. It’s in whales, turtles and 90% of sea birds, and it’s been found in our salt, our tap water and even our beer.”
– Tisha Brown, Greenpeace UK

Peter Walker, Political Correspondence for The Guardian, reported on 18 November 2017 that the British chancellor, Philip Hammond, while announcing the UK budget, issued a “call for evidence” on how taxes or other charges on single-use plastics could reduce the impact of discarded waste on marine and bird life.

The plague of plastic

An estimated 12m tonnes of plastic enters the oceans each year, and residues are routinely found in fish, sea birds and marine mammals. This week it emerged that plastics had been discovered even in creatures living seven miles beneath the sea.

The introduction just over two years ago of a 5p charge on single-use plastic bags led to an 85% reduction in their use inside six months.

Announcing the move on plastics, the British Treasury cited statistics saying more than a million birds and 100,000 sea mammals and turtles die each year from eating or getting tangled in plastic waste.

Plastics, especially single-use plastics, are becoming an increasing threat to marine life and they are making their way into the food chain

The BBC series Blue Planet II has highlighted the scale of plastic debris in the oceans. In the episode broadcast on 19 November 2017, footage was shown of albatrosses trying to feed plastic to their young, and a pilot whale carrying her dead calf with her for days in mourning. Scientists working with the programme believed the mother’s milk was made poisonous by pollution.

You can read the full Guardian coverage by clicking here.

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