LONDON (ICIS)--The UK’s cabinet plans to spend £3bn in green policies announced on Wednesday could provide respite for chemicals and plastics in the wake of the pandemic-induced recession, according to trade groups.
The minister for the economy, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, earmarked £2bn in grants for homeowners to increase energy efficiency.
The scheme could increase energy efficiency in more than 650,000 homes, while creating around 140,000 jobs in the sector.
This could see households make savings on energy bills as well as reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 500,000 tonnes/year.
The British Plastics Federation (BPF) welcomed the green homes grant, as this could provide a boost for the sector in the UK.
“As well as being good for the environment, we hope this stimulates wider demand within the construction sector and this is bolstered by the support package for homebuyers,” said BPF director general Philip Law.
“Without plastic, the government will have great difficulty meeting energy efficiency targets within buildings.”
The remaining £1bn will be spent improving energy efficiency in buildings used by the public sector.
The Chemicals Industry Association (CIA) responded with cautious optimism, as although the green growth opportunity and boost to employment could help the sector, much of the support rolled out was for the hospitality industry, which is suffering greatly from social distancing rules in the pandemic.
“[We] look forward to a greater industry-focused autumn budget and spending plan,” the CIA said.
The Chancellor’s plans announced on Wednesday are not the UK’s official annual budget, which he is set to deliver in October when it is set to be clearer what economic sectors had been the most affected by the pandemic.
However, as the country slowly emerges from its partial lockdown, calls for urgent economic measures had been mounting.
BPF was more enthusiastic about the support for the hospitality sector as it could provide further support for plastics used in food packaging.
“Plastic packaging plays a vital role in keeping down CO2 emissions as food is transported, and ensuring it arrives in a fresh condition for the catering world,” added the BPF's director general.
Industrial employment could get a boost from grants for corporates taking on apprenticeships; employers will be able to claim £2,000 per apprentice aged 18-24, and £1,500 for apprentices aged 25 or older.
Front page picture: Insulation being fitted
at a property