Theresa May made a speech yesterday laying out her environmental plans for the next couple of years.
The plan extends over a 25 year period to the ultimate aim of getting rid of all ‘avoidable’ plastic.
The strategy that has been laid out is challenging and campaigners say that it will need to be backed up legislation.
Among her proposals, is the plan to extend the law on plastic bag charges to smaller retailers. At the moment the 5p charge only applies to retailers who have more than 250 employees.
However, this is now planned to change as all shops will now be obliged to sell the bags, rather than give them out for free.
She’s also called for possible charges on single-use plastic takeaway containers – which is currently a huge contributor to plastic waste.
And possibly the most challenging of all her plans, she aims to have plastic-free isles, where all the food is loose and reducing plastic wrap by 100%.
She said: “Today I can confirm that the UK will demonstrate global leadership. We must reduce the demand for plastic, reduce the number of plastics in circulation and improve our recycling rates.”.
While some have criticised the speech and said that clear easy plans have been missed – it is a step towards a greener Britain.
So where does my 5p go?
The government has not made any clear legislation regarding where the all the money from the 5p charge must go – they do state that there is a ‘clear expectation’ that it should go to charity.
The government sent out a survey last year asking all of the retailers where they placed those funds. Among those who responded were the top retailers including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrisons, Aldi, the co-op, Waitrose and Marks & Spencers.
They showed that between 2016 and 2017 £66M was donated to good causes.
By law retailers already need to keep a count of how many bags were sold and what was done with the money accrued. If they fail to do so, they could face a hefty fine up to £20,000.
While a large chunk is giving to good causes, retailers can also deduct ‘resonable costs’ which cover the cost of staff training, admin and other till costs.
And lastly, a large chunk goes straight back to the government via VAT.