Medicine-related items should be excluded from a proposed Government crackdown on single-use plastics and should not attract a “plastic tax”, the Company Chemists’ Association (CCA) has said. The statement follows a recent consultation by the HM Treasury on potential options to change the tax system or to introduce charges to reduce the amount of single-use plastic waste.

Malcolm Harrison, CCA chief executive commented: “Medicines are not ordinary consumer products, and any efforts to deliver better environmental outcomes must not have unintended consequences for patient care. We sincerely hope that any policy decisions around changing the tax system or introducing charges for single-use plastics consider very carefully the impacts on sectors such as healthcare, including pharmacy.”

Plastic is used for many dosing aids and healthcare products because it does not usually interact with the active ingredients, said the CCA, and may be difficult to substitute safely. Finding viable alternatives, subject to extensive testing and quality control, would be a “longer-term project”, Mr Harrison said.

However, CCA member companies are actively “involved in and committed to” a range of environmental and sustainability initiatives, he added, before suggesting that pharmacy and healthcare generally are not in a position to absorb any further taxation if a scheme was introduced. “Any direct or indirect financial strain on the NHS and pharmacy businesses from new plastic taxes simply cannot be borne at present,” he concluded.


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