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Last Updated: Saturday, 18 November 2006, 23:02 GMT
Call to tax disposable packaging
Landfill site
The government says landfill taxes discourage wastefulness
The government is being urged to tax hard-to-recycle and disposable products in a bid to cut the amount of waste produced by manufacturers.

A report by the Institute for Public Policy Research and the Green Alliance says items such as throw-away cameras and disposable razors should be taxed.

It comes ahead of the government's pre-Budget report and Waste Strategy.

Earlier this week environment minister Ben Bradshaw pressured supermarkets to cut down on packaging.


The report said taxing items such as drink cartons that are not easily recyclable would help reduce the levels of waste.

Currently four billion of these cartons are used in the UK each year but less than 10% of them are recycled.

It is time manufacturers were made to take full responsibility for the life cycle of their products
Paul Bettison

But in countries such as Germany, where there is a 1.5% charge on cartons to help pay for collection and recycling, more than 65% of cartons are recycled.

Nick Pearce, IPPR director, said it was up to businesses to take "greater responsibility for the whole life of products, by paying a product tax that goes towards payment for disposal".

He said this would only be fair if a "pay-as-you-throw" system of charges for collecting household rubbish was introduced - a system which the IPPR called for earlier this year.

Paul Bettison, chairman of the Local Government Association's Environment Board, said that unless there was a "radical overhaul" of the way rubbish was dealt with, the environment would continue to suffer and council tax bills would rise.

"The government should ensure that it is the polluter and not people that pay," he said.

'Infrastructure problem'

A Treasury spokesman said taxes were already being used to discourage unenvironmental behaviour.

"The landfill tax has helped reduce volume of waste going to landfill by 28% since 1997 and has helped to fund local community projects," he said.

Manufacturer Tetra Pak said the drink carton industry was taking a lead by investing to boost carton collection and reprocessing in the UK.

"Cartons can be recycled; what has so far been largely absent in this country is the infrastructure to enable collection," environment manager Richard Hands said.

The firm added: "The report does seem to concentrate on end-of-life rather than the wider picture of resource-efficiency, energy consumption and transport throughout a product's entire life cycle."

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