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How will the potential new single-use plastic tax affect UK businesses?

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The UK government has announced, subject to consultation that from April 2022, a tax will be enforced on any business that manufactures or imports plastic that does not contain 30% or more recyclable plastic. This gives those in the plastic trade plenty of time to produce new ideas and products. In addition, they find alternative sources to buy from, if they want to escape a tax penalty.

Normally a new tax or tax increase is viewed negatively. However, in this case, it should be viewed as a positive for everyone involved.

The new potential tax will affect all UK businesses in different ways. Plastic manufacturers and importers will need to change the way they conduct themselves. Those that do should reap the rewards for making changes. The thousands of UK businesses, which produce plastic waste, will also have a chance to affect themselves and the environment positively. By utilising plastic with 30% recycled material manufacturers and importers will get a better deal for themselves. By adopting a moral practice manufacturers and importers can enhance their reputations. Firstly, they will not have to fork out extra money on tax, so they get a cheaper deal. As of yet, it is not known if there will be extra costs involved for producing more recyclable plastics. At least the tax will be avoided.

Simplified plastic waste segregation

Businesses, which produce plastic waste, can also view this tax positively. It has the potential to make recycling and segregation easier. As the majority, if not all plastic waste will contain over 30% recyclable material, it should be simple for staff to recycle all plastic the same way. Currently the UK has various recyclable plastics and various non-recyclable plastics, which complicate matters. Some can go into the recycling system and some still has to enter the general waste stream. By 2022, hopefully all plastic can enter the recycling stream.

Forcing the majority of plastics to be recyclable should make businesses want to implement their own excellent recycling system. The fact is loose plastic never has and never will transport as well as baled plastic. Many, many businesses use bins to contain all their waste streams, which results in loose plastic transportation. This always has the potential to overflow, blow away in the wind and cause a mess. The majority of recycling bins are Dry Mixed Recycling bins. Consequently, cardboard and plastic waste which can enter together with no segregation. This means disposal is easy, but it comes at a cost.

Waste segregation takes place at the waste management depot, which the company adds as labour costs to the price of bin lifts. These bins are expensive anyway and the yearly increase in landfill tax does not help – many businesses can find themselves spending a small fortune on recycling bins.

Easier segregation at source

There are many businesses that do not spend a small fortune on recycling bins. This is because they segregate at the source and use recycling equipment instead of bins. It is simple enough to segregate plastic; plastic bag stands and plastic baling machines are brilliant for this. If this potential tax goes through, it will make it even easier to segregate at the source, as in reality there should be very little segregation to do. The majority of plastic will all be able to enter balers at the same time, which lessens the workload and makes baling plastic an even quicker task.

A recycler, rather than a waste management company collects the plastic bales. With the material all ready for the recycler to work with, they have little work to do once they get the bales back to the depot. Therefore, they will, in the majority of UK locations, collect plastic bales free. Recycling machines have a small footprint and they have the ability to replace numerous voluminous bins. This can free up space in tight areas. One baler can transform an overcrowded bin area into a neat bale and storage area.

Even in the unlikely event this new single-use plastic tax does not come into force, now is the ideal time for businesses to remove expensive bins. Then replace them with cost-effective, space saving, time saving and eco-friendly recycling balers. If, as expected, this tax is accepted, then UK businesses with balers will have the best possible system in terms of efficiency, cost and green credentials. Plastic will need little segregating. In most, cases the collection of the bins won’t cost anything and up to 100% of the waste will go for recycling. This is a far cry from disposing loose waste in bins.

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