Govt denies parents face tax on disposable nappies in fight against single-use plastic

31 August 2021, 09:56 | Updated: 31 August 2021, 13:45

Parents could face a tax on nappies in a battle against single-use plastic.
Parents could face a tax on nappies in a battle against single-use plastic. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

The Government has denied it will tax disposable nappies to encourage the use of more eco-friendly alternatives.

It followed reports that a move was being considered, in a bid to stop products which cannot be recycled from going to landfill.

A Whitehall source told the Daily Mail: "The next single-use plastic item we are looking at is nappies.

"But you couldn't ban them – that would be too tough for parents. It would need to take some form of a tax."

Switching to more environmentally friendly alternatives - such as cloth nappies that can be reused or biodegradable ones - would mean a huge cut in single-use plastics, especially as around three billion nappies are thrown away every year, according to recycling charity Wrap.

But on Tuesday, the Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "We will not be putting a tax on nappies. That story is untrue.

"We have a strong track record on tackling pollution and we believe the best way to do that is to ensure that we have policies that are proportionate and encourage people to make change.

"And we will continue to introduce policies that we believe strike that correct balance."

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Keep Britain Tidy’s chief executive, Allison Ogden-Newton, said in a previous campaign that the incorrect disposal of nappies was causing an "environmental disaster".

"Truckload after truckload of carefully separated and collected recycling is being rejected because so many people don’t know that they cannot recycle nappies and contaminate their recycling by sticking them in there," she said.

"Not only is this costing our local authorities hundreds of thousands of pounds a year, it is an environmental disaster."

However, the reported move to increase tax was not welcomed by all parents, as has been made clear on Mumsnet.

The site's founder, Justine Roberts, said there needed to be more "viable options".

"Ideally, parents do want to make greener choices but it’s hard when they are busy and finances are stretched and they’re struggling to find a moment for themselves," she argued.

"No one on Mumsnet doubts the need to take action for the environment, but consumers need viable options."

It comes amid warnings that plastic cutlery and polystyrene cups could be next to go, in order to further cut sources of environmentally damaging waste.