21 October 2021

IOM3 celebrates UK Government move to extend single-use charges to all materials – not just plastic

The UK Government has conceded an amendment to the Environment Bill extending powers to apply charges to all single-use items – not just plastic.


This bid to end the UK’s ‘throwaway culture’ will mean policies such as the 10p carrier bag charge can be replicated across unnecessary single-use products of all materials. 

The Bill already contained provisions to make it easier for ministers to introduce charges on single-use plastics, but the amendment extends this to charges on all single-use products.

This is a welcome and important concession by Government that IOM3 along with a group of other businesses, professionals and representative organisations have long been calling for. As outlined in IOM3 CEO Colin Church’s blog for Green Alliance ‘The single misuse problem: it’s not just about plastic’ published in November last year – without this concession, the power was ‘unnecessarily short sighted and could simply create new environmental problems rather than eliminating them.’ 

The blog continues, ‘Where there is currently no reasonable alternative to a disposable item, we need to think carefully about what the right material is for that use and not blindly move away from plastic to something that could lead to similar, if not more, environmental damage.’ 

In November 2020 and September 2021, IOM3 jointly signed letters to Members of the Environment Bill Committee and Members of the House of Lords calling for support for this amendment and highlighting the need to incorporate all materials if the Government’s ambitions on waste minimisation and reductions are to be achieved. 

Jude Allan, Chair of IOM3 Packaging Society, welcomed the news, stating, ‘This is fantastic news, it’s so important to think about what we’re using and why we’re using it instead of simply focusing on a specific material. Encouraging everyone to think more about whether or not they really need to use an item once and then throw it away is a big step towards tackling the throwaway culture rather than just shifting from one material to another.’

The power will now only be available in England, however, as it is too late to amend the legislative consent memorandums that have already been passed through the respective devolved parliaments. 

Related topics