We asked our Finance Director, Katherine Howard, to write her thoughts on the British Packaging Federation’s recent seminar on the proposed plastics tax...
As an accountant a seminar about tax is super enticing and so when accompanying my colleagues to the Packaging Innovations Show at the NEC in February I made a bee-line for the British Packaging Federation’s seminar on the four current government consultations including the proposed plastics tax. The government is consulting on this as well as an overhaul of the Packaging Producer Responsibility System (viewed by some as a tax), a proposed deposit return scheme and consistency in recycling. The BPF is, quite rightly, keen to identify the unintended consequences of these proposed changes; a tall order in the three months government has allowed for responses. Now, I’m at the seminar as an employee of BPF member Aegg, but I’m also a member of the inhabitants of planet earth and a consumer of packaging, yes, some of it plastic. Can these three groups happily co-exist post proposals? To answer this question we should determine the unintended consequences for we already have them don’t we? Plastic in the ocean is the scene setter, but there is also:
• recyclable content being sent to landfill and non-recyclable content contaminating recyclable product, because consumers don’t understand the differences (certainly my neighbours don’t – I got to check the green bin contents in the aftermath of Storm Gareth!)
• the big players buying up the recycling infrastructure and so shutting the smaller (more nimble?) players out
• shocking levels of food waste, some of which could be eliminated through appropriate packaging
• Relatively high energy consumption in the production of non-plastic packaging material
• The likelihood that a littering consumer will litter a recyclable product as much as a non-recyclable one
These proposals could set into play the biggest industry and behavioural changes seen in a generation. Aegg is pleased to be working with the BPF to identify the impact of these proposals on businesses, consumers and inhabitants of planet earth. Let’s get it right this time and not replace one set of unintended consequences with another.