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What is the proposed UK Plastic Tax?

By 28/10/2020No Comments

Everything you need to know about the UK Plastic Tax

Have you heard about the UK Plastic Tax? Well, if you haven’t you better listen up! In 2022, the government will introduce a UK tax on ALL plastic packaging which doesn’t contain at least 30% recycled materials.

The introduction of this tax is the result of the worldwide issue of plastic waste (check out our previous blog for more information on this). Therefore, as an incentive to drive demand for recyclable materials and divert unnecessary waste away from landfill and incineration, the Government consultation for a proposed UK plastic tax closed on 20th August 2020. 

The UK Plastic Tax will affect numerous business. It will affect producers and importers of packaging, their business customers and any consumers who buy goods in plastic packaging.

With that in mind, Eastpac has compiled everything you need to know about this new tax. Plus, how it could potentially affect your business. Read on to discover what you can do to minimise the effects.

What exactly does the Plastic Tax mean? 

Unfortunately, many manufacturers and importers are using and producing plastic irresponsibly. Consequently, the new legislation will provide a clear financial incentive for businesses to take responsibility for their packaging production process and waste.

According to Government statistics, the plastic tax is said to boost the use of recycled plastics by 40% and ultimately reduce carbon emissions by 200,000 tonnes. By generating greater demand, increasing levels of recycling, perfectly good, reusable plastic resources are kept away from landfill. 

Therefore, any plastic which does not contain at least 30% of recycled plastics will be charged a tax of £200. As a result, packaging which is not predominately plastic by weight will be exempt from the charge. 

Essentially, all plastic packaging will be liable to the tax, whether or not it’s filled or unfilled with goods, materials or products. 

What can I do to minimise the effects?

There is plenty of time to source replacements for current plastic materials. There are numerous alternatives available, for example, either recycled content or even consider an entirely new solution. 

To help, here are a few pointers to help you get started:

1) Polypropylene or vinyl tape – if you’re applying tape to your packages, there is the option to switch to a water-activated paper-based tape. Self-adhesive paper tapes are also available! Check out our previous blog explaining all about the different tapes Eastpac offer. 

2) Plastic Mailing Bags – paper mailing bags are available. Even though they are made of paper, they can be treated to repel water and protect the contents from becoming damaged. You could also consider switching to either recycled content or a lower micron bag.

3) Stretch wrap If you are using a machine stretch wrap, now is the perfect opportunity to switch to a performance film. By swapping to this alternative, you can dramatically reduce the amount of material required.

4) Polythene Products – items like pallet covers, bags and airbags can all be made with recycled content. 

How is the EU tax levy different from the proposed
UK plastic tax?

We understand that there is some confusion over the difference between the EU and UK tax levy. In July, the EU approved the implementation of a new plastic tax levy from 1st January 2021. Whilst it’s called a “tax”, strictly speaking, it is a direct charge to member states by the EU. Additionally, the money generated will go towards an EU Coronavirus recovery fund.

The levy focuses on non-recyclable plastic materials. Each member state is required to pay €800 per tonne of non-recyclable plastic used. Individual country contributions will be calculated based on their own national waste database figures. 

But, the UK will not be subject to this member state payment due to leaving the European Union. However, it will have a knock-on effect on those businesses that import plastic packaging from Europe.

Overall, the EU levy places a focus on non-recyclable plastics. Ultimately, putting pressure on the industry to consider waste reduction at product end of life. Whereas, the proposed UK taxation – to be introduced in April 2022 – places the focus on “non-recycled content plastic”, with tax being implemented on material that contains less than 30% recycled content.

April 2022 is rapidly approaching. Even though the recent pandemic may have interrupted most businesses plans, workflow and trading levels, the time to act is now. The deadline for this change in legislation remains and can’t be forgotten about. 

Therefore, if you’re looking to introduce more recycled materials in your packaging production, get in touch with Eastpac. 

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