Image for Ocean-lovers call for a ‘plastic-free’ autumn budget

Ocean-lovers call for a ‘plastic-free’ autumn budget

Surfers Against Sewage is calling on the chancellor to use the tax system to tackle single-use plastic

Surfers Against Sewage is calling on the chancellor to use the tax system to tackle single-use plastic

Environmental charity Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) is urging the chancellor Philip Hammond to tackle the creation and use of avoidable single-use plastic in the autumn budget. They want to see the introduction of a plastic tax and support for a ‘world class, inclusive’ deposit return scheme for all drinks bottles.

Those at the charity say there is overwhelming support for Treasury action to address the impact of plastics on the environment among individuals, businesses and campaign groups. The public response to the recent consultation on single-use plastic was the largest in the Treasury’s history. The budget will be bounced on Monday (29 October).

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“The future health of our oceans and marine life cannot be traded for the convenience culture of today so we need a budget that drives action to make us single-use plastic free,” said Hugo Tagholm, SAS chief executive.

“Aggressively cutting the volume of avoidable and pointless plastics is critical in reversing the terrifying scale of plastic pollution currently suffocating our environment, from our cities to the ocean. Runaway plastic emissions have to be tackled through ambitious and progressive policies that truly stop plastic particulate from being belched out from factories.

“It doesn’t stop at coffee cups and cutlery; business needs wholesale reform to decouple its profits from finite fossil fuels used to make products that last just minutes but pollute for centuries.”

A cleanup of Bristol Gorge earlier in October, organised by SAS. Image: Alex Casado

This week alone, more than 15,000 volunteers are taking part in 475 SAS beach and river cleans across the UK, expecting to remove 35 tonnes of plastic.

Tagholm said that plastic production could quadruple by 2050, fuelled by new fossil fuel exploration such as fracking. “The government must act with urgency to ensure that manufacturers are truly responsible for the full life-cycle of all of the plastic they produce,” he said. “100 per cent recyclable should equate to 100 per cent recycled.”

It doesn’t stop at coffee cups and cutlery; business needs wholesale reform to decouple its profits from finite fossil fuels

SAS recently delivered a petition representing more than 325,000 citizens to the prime minister, calling for the introduction of a comprehensive deposit return system on plastic drinks bottle and containers. The government will soon be consulting on the design of such a system in England.

There are more than 400 ‘Plastic Free Communities’ working together to free where they live from throwaway single-use – from Plymouth to Portrush and Hackney to the Hebrides.

Volunteers taking part in a beach clean in Scarborough. Image: Lewis Arnold

More than 300 primary schools are part of the Plastic Free Schools programme, a pupil-led programme to remove avoidable single-use plastic from their schools. And more than 600 small businesses are taking steps to remove single-use plastic from their business as part of SAS’s Plastic Free Communities programme.

“It is now time for the chancellor to act and show that he is part of this growing UK wide movement,” added Tagholm.” Communities across the UK are doing what they can to tackle our addiction to throwaway single-use plastic, but we need urgent and bold action now to change the system that produces it.”

Featured image: Children take part in a beach clean in Scarborough, photographed by Lewis Arnold

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