March and the first half of April have seen the launch of the Plastic Packaging Tax; the unveiling of the Chancellor's Spring Statement; a significant update on the Resources and Waste Strategy, and much more besides. Read on to find out more.
The big talking point at the start of this month was the launch of the Plastic Packaging Tax on 1st April. The tax impacts manufacturers and importers of plastic packaging and charges £200 per tonne of plastic packaging that does not contain at least 30% recycled content. Shortly afterwards, the Government published an update to the Resources and Waste Strategy, offering more information on the Extended Producer Responsibility scheme for packaging. This includes the total cost of the scheme to obligated producers, which is now forecast to be around £1.7 billion each year; the timeline for implementation, which is set to begin in 2024; and guidance on payments for managing the cost of packaging waste. The update also provides some detail on the Deposit Return Scheme (DRS), including confirmation that England, Wales and Northern Ireland will adopt an all-in DRS, in line with Scotland's approach.
Prior to this on 23rd March, Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer, delivered his Spring Statement to the House. Key announcements include the forecast of 3.8% growth of the economy this year; the 5p per litre cut in fuel duty until March 2023; a removal of VAT on energy saving materials such as solar panels, heat pumps and roof insulation for five years; and other significant announcements across several areas. On a more global level, the UK Government has provided support to kickstart negotiations on a legally binding treaty on plastic pollution at the United Nations Environment Assembly.
Also announced over the past month was the Government's Energy Security Strategy. The strategy aims to boost UK energy independence and security, reduce reliance on oil and gas, and tackle rising prices. Some of the key talking points from the strategy indicate that up to 95% of the UK’s electricity could come from low-carbon sources by 2030; a £30 million Heat Pump Investment Accelerator Competition is to be launched in 2022; and up to eight new nuclear reactors could be built, with one approved each year until 2030. In addition, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has published quarterly forecasts of expenditure on the Green Gas Support Scheme.
Net Zero and climate change
Elsewhere, the Department for Transport (DfT) has published its response to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA)'s market study into electric vehicle charging in the UK. The CMA made recommendations covering unlocking competition along motorways, how to develop a competitive sector while attracting private investment, and more. Also published in the last month was BEIS' list of projects submitted as part of the cluster sequencing process that are eligible for government support, in order to expand the UK's carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS) capabilities.
Following the launch of the Plastic Packaging Tax on 1st April, the government has provided an update on the Resources & Waste Strategy, largely focusing on Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR).
The imbalance of demand and supply of energy has caused unprecedented price increases across the globe. Profound changes are required from UK businesses to adapt and ensure a larger energy crisis is avoided by securing supply of energy and limiting reliance on fossil fuels.