BPF urges cautions over Irish packaging levy

By Michelle Knott

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Bpf Recycling

The British Plastics Federation (BPF) has added to the chorus of disapproval greeting the Irish government’s consultation on a possible packaging levy.

"We’re cautioning them about going down the route of a supplementary levy, because waste management is very complex,”​ Philip Law, director of public and industrial affairs, told this publication.

The BPF has joined other industry bodies such as INCPEN in warning of possible unintended economic consequences of any packaging tax.

For example, the BPF statement warned that companies unable to pass on the levy and forced to absorb it could cut key corporate budgets such as research and development and training, which would stifle innovation.

Law also questioned whether the levy would achieve its chief goal of reducing the amount of packaging ending up in landfill:

“Just because you throw money at a problem doesn’t mean you’re going to get higher recycling rates, because it’s about achieving a balance between many things.

You need to ensure there’s adequate recycling capacity and you need private investment for that. You also need the public to engage with you and provide a good supply of uncomplicated waste.”

Call for clarity

There are few details included in the Irish proposal so far, such as whether any levy would be applied at the retailer level or elsewhere in the supply chain. There is also nothing to commit the authorities to ploughing any money raised back into waste reduction.

Law told FoodProductionDaily that if a scheme does go ahead “against the BPF’s better judgement”,​ any element of hypothecation would be vital to ensure that “any money raised is channelled through to that specific purpose”.

The BPF also stressed that the punitive connotations of a levy could potentially demonise packaging.

Yet packaging and in particular plastics packaging has revolutionised food storage, greatly reduced food and product wastage in the developed world, increased levels of food hygiene and saved energy in transportation.

“It is impossible to disassociate a package from the goods it packs. Packaging does not have a separate life. It is called into being only when something needs to be protected, displayed, handled and transported.

The reduction of the amount of packaging waste arising implies a reduction in consumption of food and consumer goods. This would impair economic regeneration in Ireland and in its trading partners,”​ added Law.

The consultation is due to close on 5 August.

Related topics Processing & Packaging

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