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.
Environmental charity Surfers Against Sewage is calling on the chancellor, Philip Hammond, to tackle the creation and use of avoidable single-use plastic in his forthcoming Autumn Budget on Monday, including the introduction of a plastic tax and support for a world class inclusive Deposit Return Scheme for all drinks bottles.
Hugo Tagholm, chief executive of Surfers Against Sewage, said: "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. 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.
"Eliminating society's plastic footprint and creating a truly circular economy will require bold and brilliant policies, innovation and sustainable alternatives."
"Plastic production is set to 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. 100 percent recyclable should equate to 100 percent recycled."
SAS has campaigned successfully for the introduction of the 5p plastic bag charge, which has already reduced the circulation of plastic bags by nine billion. It also recently delivered a petition representing the voices of over 325,000 citizens to the prime minister, Theresa May, calling for the introduction of a comprehensive deposit return system (DRS) on plastic beverage bottle and containers.
A DRS is a proven mechanism to trap plastic in the recycling economy rather than on our beaches and in the wider environment. The government will soon be consulting on the design of the English DRS system.
SAS will be calling for it to be fully inclusive of beverage bottle sizes and materials to create a truly world-class and effective system that will protect the environment, create jobs, reduce carbon emissions and prevent littering.
Earlier this year, Surfers Against Sewage, alongside 27 major environmental organisations, issued a joint response to the Treasury's single-use plastic consultation.
The group called for a plastics tax to incentivise use of recycled plastics, reduce volumes of the most environmentally-damaging and non-recyclable plastics and polymers, and to extend producer responsibility so that producers and retailers are accountable for the full 'end of life' costs of the single use plastics they put on the market.
Brendan Montague is editor of The Ecologist. This article is based on a press release from Surfers Against Sewage.