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The Chancellor is to launch a public consultation on how the tax system can be used to cut down on single-use plastics.

Philip Hammond will use his first Spring Statement on Tuesday to call for evidence on how to reduce the environmentally damaging waste in similar ways to the plastic bag charge.

In the November Budget, he announced plans to use the tax system to help deliver the Government's target of eliminating avoidable plastic waste by 2042, but next week Mr Hammond will also unveil a £20m innovation fund for businesses and universities to develop new technologies to help achieve the goal.

Of all the hundreds of products on display in the world’s first ‘plastic-free’ supermarket aisle last week, the one attracting most interest was a glossy pack of fat, pink sausages.

It wasn’t because of their arresting colour, or the fact the sausages were sold only in pairs, rather than as a string. 

But because their packaging — a shiny, green base and pad for the sausages to nestle on, transparent cover, and sticky label — looked suspiciously, well, plastic.


Many customers were querying what was on offer — or even complaining. 

They simply couldn’t believe that among the shiny salad bags, tomato punnets, transparent sacks of potatoes and carrots, and rows of packets of rice, muesli and crisps — a little plastic hadn’t snuck in.

But no, all the packaging in the aisle launched in a branch of the Dutch health food chain Ekoplaza in Amsterdam last Wednesday — is plastic-free, either made from sustainably sourced raw materials such as starch, sugar and wood pulp, or more conventional glass, paper and cardboard. 

And it all keeps the food inside just as fresh as plastic.

‘The meat trays are our pride and joy!’ beams Marco, 44, the handsome sales assistant, wearing a black shirt emblazoned with "I’m ready for change". 

‘They were very difficult to get right. Everyone finds them very surprising.’

The aisle was created with the help of two entrepreneurial London mums, Sian Sutherland and Frederikke Magnussen. A year ago they launched A Plastic Planet, a campaign group which aims to reduce single-use plastic in the food industry — and together they have ignited a movement that could dramatically change how manufacturers package food and how we shop for it.

Last week’s launch attracted TV and newspaper journalists from around the world.

It has also sent supermarket executives in Britain into a spin. 

While the Brits have dithered and Theresa May has made vague promises of plastic-free aisles ‘at some stage’ in the future, Erik Does, Ekoplaza’s chief executive saw the potential immediately and seized the chance to work with Sian and Frederikke. It took just six months for them to source more than 700 suitable products to get the dedicated aisle up and running — and at no extra cost to customers.

Take those sausages; each pack costs the equivalent of just 1p more to produce than the plastic-wrapped alternative — a cost absorbed by Ekoplaza.

Best of all, when the packaging is placed in a food compost bin, it will break down to water, carbon dioxide and other organic waste in just 12 weeks.

The Government has been accused of failing to turn "warm words" on cutting waste into action, after failing to give its backing to calls for a "latte levy" on disposable coffee cups.

The measure was the headline recommendation from a cross-party committee of MPs, who said the money raised from the 25p charge could fund improved recycling facilities.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove is on record as describing the levy as an "exciting idea", and he presented fellow ministers with reusable coffee cups made of bamboo when they met to discuss the Government's 25-year Environment Plan.

However, in its official response to the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee report, the Government said only that a "latte levy" was "something we could consider amongst other policy options".

Deliveroo is setting out steps to dramatically reduce the amount of plastic packaging that its takeaway meals are transported in.

The food delivery firm said it intended to lead by example, persuading manufacturers to start producing more alternatives to polluting plastics and using its purchasing power to buy up a wider range of sustainable packaging, making it more affordable for its restaurants to use.

Emma Cox, the company's product marketing manager, said convenience culture must not come at an environmental cost.

"It's going to involve everyone in the food industry coming together to do this and also customers playing their part," she said.

"We've been sitting down with our restaurant partners and manufacturers to identify where there are gaps and where we need to find better plastic alternatives."

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