UK Sugar Tax

A new levy is set to come into force in the UK in 2018 on ‘soft drinks' that are not pure fruit or milk-based and contain concentrations of sugar >5g/100ml e.g. fizzy/carbonated drinks in particular

The policy announcement comes in response to interventions by senior healthcare professionals/public figures, and is pitched at helping to combat major, life threatening public health issues linked to sugar consumption e.g. obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer's

Improving child health and vitality is the primary objective of the initiative and, in England, proceeds from the tax are to be invested in increasing sporting participation at primary schools

Laudable as the aims may be, unfortunately the paternalistic measure has come in for a lot of criticism, for example given that:

UK Plastic Bag Levy

This is a subject close to my heart, and not a million miles away from the topic of my undergrad dissertation: Green Behaviour and Behavioural Change'

Whilst the policy may seem a paternalistic nuisance, and the levy relatively insignificant in pecuniary terms (and hence likely to be ineffectual), I believe it’s the right move. The effect has been generally positive in terms of normative and behavioural change in the rest of the UK – where levies have already been introduced (e.g. 72% reduction in plastic bag usage in Wales in the past 4 years) thanks, presumably, to both direct (financial disincentive) and indirect (market signalling, nudge) effects

I’d like to see the levy imposed across the board too (not just to larger retailers) and increased (from 5p to perhaps 10p/20p), with at least a proportion of it going to environmental causes e.g. green behaviour change initiatives in particular. I’d also like to see action taken on a pan-European and, eventually, global basis too; the problem of plastic pollution is of course – like so many of the environmental challenges we face today – a global one