Downing Street has flatly denied it will tax disposable nappies in order to encourage parents to use environmentally-friendly alternatives.
On Monday, the Daily Mail reported that nappies were on a “ministerial hit list” of single-use items, which also included plastic knives and forks, that the Government wants to discourage people from using.
A Whitehall source told the Mail “some form of tax” would likely be placed on disposable nappies, but the Prime Minister’s official spokesman denied this.
The spokesman said: “We will not be putting a tax on nappies. That story is untrue.
“We have a strong track record on tackling pollution and we believe the best way to do that is to ensure that we have policies that are proportionate and encourage people to make change.
“And we will continue to introduce policies that we believe strike that correct balance.”
Single-use plastic plates, cutlery and polystyrene cups could be banned in England under plans to further cut environmentally damaging waste, announced last week.
A public consultation on banning the items will be launched in the autumn, with the aim of businesses using more sustainable alternatives and cutting polluting plastic litter.
Each person uses 18 single-use plastic plates and 37 single-use plastic items of cutlery per year in England, according to figures from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
The Mail’s claims of a nappy tax came from an unnamed Whitehall source.
The source told the newspaper: “The next single-use plastic item we are looking at is nappies.
“But you couldn’t ban them – that would be too tough for parents. It would need to take some form of a tax.”
The proposals faced criticism Justine Roberts, a founder of the parenting website Mumsnet.
“Ideally, parents do want to make greener choices, but it’s hard when they are busy and finances are stretched and they’re struggling to find a moment for themselves,” she told the Mail.
“Asking parents, and, frankly, it’s usually mothers, for the commitment needed for reusables is a big ask. No-one on Mumsnet doubts the need to take action for the environment, but consumers need viable options.”