Currently there is a massive problem in that many companies are producing products (many of which are single use) that are not recyclable. These end up in landfill where the true cost of these products are felt by the environment, and the taxpayer who ends up having to fund landfill and all the associated problems. Currently, companies can avoid putting these costs onto their product, meaning the shelf price of these goods is much lower than the cost to wider society. Companies benefit. Society loses out.
With landfill still continuing to grow in the UK, companies need both a carrot and a stick to reduce the number of products they produce that are not recyclable. The stick would be to add a tax onto companies that varies depending on the proportion of products they produce that are single-use and non-recyclable. Whilst companies would likely pass on this cost to consumers, consumers would then be encouraged towards the lower prices of goods that are recyclable. The carrot in the equation could be a certified sticker on products that says a company is producing below a certain percentage of goods that are not recyclable – incentivising good behaviour for companies.
There would be exemptions for the production of medical products – such as syringes – which for obvious reasons are rightfully single use.
This should also be a hypothecated tax so that money raised from the companies, and from consumers buying these products, would go towards paying for the associated issues from landfill. It could also be used to fund the research of new recyclable materials that have a better environmental impact than existing single use materials. This research could then be made freely available to companies and the public, providing a public good that contributes towards the reduction of landfill.
The main effect of this policy would be that it pushes the onus for the lifetime of product onto the company that made it. Ultimately, this would hopefully stop companies from producing environmental harmful products and packaging, meaning they wouldn’t be available for consumers to buy in the first place.