What is the plastic packaging tax?



This month is Plastic Free July; a global movement that helps millions of people be part of the solution to plastic pollution. So, what better time than to look at the plastic packaging tax announced by the Chancellor?

According to Plastic Free July, which was established in 2011, participants contribute to a total saving of 825 million kilograms of plastic waste each year and nine out of 10 people make changes that become a way of life.

As a business, we have taken some steps to reduce our plastic use including removing plastic cups from the watercooler to encourage the use of reusable bottles. We have also provided our clients with reusable Beatons bags to encourage them to stop using single use plastic carrier bags.

It is hoped that the new plastic packaging tax will give businesses a clear economic incentive to use recycled materials, and in turn, increase recycling levels and divert plastic waste away from landfill or incineration.

Back in April, when the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, unveiled his first Budget, he revealed that the plastic packaging tax will see companies paying £200 per tonne of packaging made from less than 30% recycled plastic from April 2022.

This will apply to plastic packaging which has been manufactured in, or imported into, the UK.

The government says it will keep the rate of the tax and the 30% threshold under review to ensure that the tax remains effective in increasing the use of recycled plastics.

In the Budget, following feedback from the previous consultation over the proposal, the government announced that it would extend the scope of the tax. It now includes imported filled plastic packaging that does not contain at least 30% recycled plastic content, rather than just imports of unfilled plastic packaging.

Businesses that manufacture or import less than 10 tonnes of plastic packaging in a year are exempt from paying the tax.

The government said the tax will complement the reformed packaging producer responsibility regulations.

It is designed to encourage businesses to design and use plastic packaging that is easier to recycle and discourage from the manufacture of plastic which is difficult to recycle.

The government is holding a consultation on the design and implementation of the plastic packaging tax. It was originally due to close on May 20, however the deadline has been extended to August 20 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The consultation will look at the tax to ensure it meets environmental objectives while placing only proportionate burdens on business.

Questions include the scope of the tax, processes for registration, returns and enforcement and liability. However, the rate of the tax and percentage of recycled content are not included in the consultation.

To have your say, visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/plastic-packaging-tax-policy-design