Spring Statement promises big money for universities that help solve plastic blight

13th March 2018

The Chancellor, Philip Hammond, delivered his first Spring Statement today – promising a call for evidence on single use plastics and a downpayment of £20m to businesses and universities that think of solutions to the issue.
In his speech he praised ‘our world-class universities’ and their role in ‘delivering the breakthrough discoveries and inventions that are powering it.’
He went on to tackle sustainability issues, stating: “This government is determined that our generation should leave the natural environment in a better state than we found it and improve the quality of the air we breathe.
“So we will publish a call for evidence on whether the use of non-agricultural red diesel tax relief contributes to poor air quality in urban areas. And following our successful intervention to incentivise green taxis, we’ll help the Great British White Van driver go green with a consultation on reduced VED rates for the cleanest vans.
“And follow up on the vital issue of plastic littering and the threat to our oceans with a call for evidence to support us in delivering on our vow to tackle this complex issue.
“It will look at the whole supply chain for single use plastics; at alternative materials, reusable options and recycling opportunities. And it will look at how the tax system can help drive the technological progress and behavioural change we need.
“Not as a way of raising revenue but as a way of changing behaviour and encouraging innovation. We’ll commit to investing to develop new, greener, products and processes funded from the revenues that are raised.
“And as a downpayment Mr Speaker, we’ll award £20m now from existing departmental budgets to businesses and universities, to stimulate new thinking and rapid solutions in this area during the call for evidence.”

In response, the EAUC welcomes these initiatives – particularly the focus on plastics and the recognition that universities and colleges play an integral role in addressing sustainability challenges.
Iain Patton, Chief Executive at the Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges, said: “This is a welcome focus on creating the sustainability behaviour change we urgently need to see in society. Single-use plastics are a scourge in our cities, countryside and sea and the issue must be tackled head on.
“Rightly, the chancellor has recognised the role both universities and businesses must play if we are to make progress on this agenda. We look forward to seeing which of our members will take up this challenge and support them where ever possible.”

Take part in the consultation here: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/tackling-the-plastic-problem

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