The majority of the British public want to get rid of plastic packaging on their food and have compostable packaging instead, according to a new poll commissioned by TIPA.
The survey also found that most (83%) are supportive of a tax on plastic packaging to curb plastic waste. It found strong public support for compostable packaging as a sustainable alternative to traditional plastic packaging.
Of those asked, 83% would prefer their food to be wrapped in compostable rather than traditional plastic packaging for environmental reasons.
More than eight-in-ten (83%) agree that a tax aimed at reducing the amount of plastic packaging used by food and drink manufacturers is a good idea in principle, while 80% believe the tax should treat compostable materials differently to traditional plastic.
The Yonder survey of 2,085 UK adults, commissioned by TIPA – a leading producer of compostable materials – comes amid the Government’s plans to roll out a Plastic Packaging Tax, set to launch in April 2022. The poll shows strong support for the tax in principle – yet many campaigners and members of the public have expressed concerns that the proposed tax does not make allowances for compostable packaging solutions.
Currently the tax incorporates compostable packaging as if it were traditional polluting plastic. This differs from many other countries, such as Italy, Ireland and Japan, which have enacted policies promoting compostable materials.
Some argue that including compostable packaging in the same tax category as traditional plastic undermines the purpose of compostable materials.
Daphna Nissenbaum, chief executive and co-founder of TIPA said: “The plastic packaging tax is an opportunity for the UK to establish itself as a global leader in the fight against plastic waste. Yet it is failing to allow for innovative packaging solutions like compostable packaging which are essential if we are to curb plastic pollution.
“Compostable packaging offers a sustainable solution to things like food contact plastic films, which for many reasons cannot be recycled. Instead, they are removed at recycling facilities and either sent to landfill or incinerated. This poll shows clear public support for compostable packaging. It is vital that the Government listens to this and recognises the need for a separate tax system for compostable packaging”.
The poll follows mounting pressure from politicians on the government to develop stronger infrastructure and policy support around compostable packaging. Last week Baroness Bakewell addressed the House of Lords, calling on the government to recognise the role of compostable materials in reducing plastic pollution. Peers are now set to consider amending the plastic tax to exclude compostable materials.
Baroness Bakewell said: “Plastic films are extremely hard to recycle, and even if they are recycled are seldom if ever recycled into new films. The idea of a ‘circular economy’ on such packaging is just an illusion.
“By contrast, compostable films can be an appropriate substitute, and more sustainable than conventional films from recycled sources. The unintended consequence of the plastics tax as it stands is that these innovative solutions are perversely penalised. My amendment to the Environment Bill would ensure that independently certified compostable films are treated as separate and distinct from conventional plastics.”
Sian Sutherland, co-founder of A Plastic Planet said: “There is not one silver bullet solution to our plastic crisis; instead there will be a myriad of alternatives as we switch to better, more sustainable materials and systems. Consumers have rightly recognised that there is a place for compostable materials in our future.
“When compostables are used as a conduit to take food waste into the food waste and composting system, this is a double whammy win for the environment. They help us create more compost for our hungry soils and they help reduce plastic pollution of our soil. What doesn’t make sense is for Ministers to persist with policies that fail to recognise the beneficial uses of compostables and treat them in exactly the same way as conventional plastics that do nothing but harm to our soils and our Ocean.”