Businesses and manufacturers will pay the full cost of recycling or disposing of their packaging waste, under a new strategy announced by environment secretary Michael Gove.
The overhaul England's waste system, making businesses legally responsible for waste by leaving them to foot the bill, will see the introduction of a consistent set of recyclable material for collection, subject to consultation.
Businesses will then have to pay higher fees if products are difficult to recycle. The move is expected to raise between £0.5bn and £1bn a year, to be reinvested into recycling and disposal.
The government hopes the policy will eliminate avoidable plastic waste and help preserve the environment.
Gove said: "Our strategy sets out how we will go further and faster, to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Together we can move away from being a ‘throw-away' society, to one that looks at waste as a valuable resource.
"We will cut our reliance on single-use plastics, end confusion over household recycling, tackle the problem of packaging by making polluters pay, and end the economic, environmental and moral scandal that is food waste.
"Through this plan we will cement our place as a world leader in resource efficiency, leaving our environment in a better state than we inherited it."
Kate Nicholls of trade body UKHospitality expressed concerns that the levy on hard-to-recycle products would hit business at a particularly volatile time.
She said: "The hospitality sector shares the concerns of the government and the public regarding sustainability. Our businesses understand there is a need to address issues like single-use plastics and food waste and they are already hard at work. Many outlets have already undertaken measures to cut waste voluntarily and UKHospitality, along with the British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) has been leading efforts to promote best practice across hospitality.
"We are supportive of new measures to promote sustainability and tackle waste, but they must be affordable and proportionate. New measures are going to hit businesses at a tough time when costs are increasing and consumer confidence is low. Any new scheme, particularly the deposit return scheme, must be workable and avoid piling further financial pressure on businesses."