SPRING STATEMENT: Chancellor calls for research on how to tackle plastic littering

Chancellor Philip Hammond has called for ideas on how to tackle the scourge of plastic litter.

Growing awareness of the scale of plastic litter polluting oceans and filling the stomachs of fish and large mammals like whales has led to a public outcry.

Now Mr Hammond has announced he will ask experts for evidence of how best to tackle the “complex issue”.

“It will look at the whole supply chain for single use plastics,” he said. “At alternative materials, reusable options and recycling opportunities.”

The chancellor raised the idea a plastic tax could be levied and also announced a £20million fund for research by universities and businesses.

“It will look at how the tax system can help drive the technological progress and behavioural change we need,” he said. “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 we’ll award £20million now from existing departmental budgets to businesses and universities, to stimulate new thinking and rapid solutions in this area during the call for evidence.”