The plastic packaging tax is almost here – Are you prepared?

In the UK, the plastic packaging tax comes into effect on 1st April, and will be charged at a rate of £200 per tonne. If you manufacture or import 10 or more tonnes of plastic packaging within a 12-month period, or if you will do so in the next 30 days, you will need to register for the tax. From 1 April 2022 to 30 March 2023, the 12 months threshold will be worked out differently.

Plastic Packaging Tax only applies to manufacturers and importers of plastic packaging components which contain less than 30% recycled plastic.

Packaging should only contain recycled plastic where it is permitted under other regulations and food safety standards.


When is packaging considered plastic?

For the purposes of the plastic packaging tax, plastic is a polymer material to which additives or substances may have been added, including calcium or dyes. It doesn’t include cellulose-based polymers, which have not been chemically modified.

Plastics include polymers which are biodegradable, compostable, and oxo-degradable. If a plastic packaging component is made from multiple materials, including glass, steel, wood, paper, and aluminium, but contains more plastic by weight (including additives which form part of the plastic) than any other substance, it will be classed as a plastic packaging component for the purposes of the tax. You also need to keep records of the substances that are in plastic packaging for the purposes of the tax.


Recycled plastic

Plastic packaging components containing 30% or more recycled plastic are not chargeable for the tax. However, they still count towards the 10 tonne threshold for packaging you manufacture or import in a 12 month period, and you must still keep records of it.

For the purposes of Plastic Packaging Tax, all plastic is assumed to be made using non-recycled (virgin) material, unless there is evidence that recycled material has been used.


Packaging subject to the tax

There are 2 types of plastic packaging subject to the tax. These are packaging designed to be suitable for use in the supply chain, and single use by the consumer.

Individual packaging components are generally manufactured separately before being assembled into a packaging unit. Examples include:

  • bottles, caps and labels are manufactured separately before being assembled to make packaging units for drinks and liquids
  • trays, boxes and plastic windows are manufactured separately before being assembled to make packaging units for certain foods, such as pies and cakes
  • packaging designed to be suitable for use in the supply chain

Examples of packaging components include plastic:

  • trays used to contain and protect food, such as a ready meal tray
  • film to protect goods, such as film around raw meat
  • pots designed to handle and deliver products, for example yoghurt pots

Packaging designed to be single use consumer packaging include plastic bags, disposable cups, plates and bowls, gift wrapping such as ribbon and sticky tape.


What you can do to prepare

The best things anyone can do to prepare for the plastic packaging tax are to check everything. Check how much plastic your company manufactures or imports, check whether each plastic packaging component that you manufacture, or import is subject to Plastic Packaging Tax.


How using Ribble packaging can help

At Ribble, one of our key focus areas is the environment and leaving the planet a richer place than we found it. All of our products are 100% recyclable and, can be used again and again through the supply chain.

Our business is heavily focussed on not just maintaining our own standards of environmental responsibility but helping our customers to develop their packaging processes to operate more sustainably. Our core services allow our customers to responsibly source their packaging material, eliminate the need for excess void fill as well as stopping customers returned items from ending up in landfill.

By using our services, you can eliminate the need for plastic void fill packaging and create a more sustainable packaging process while saving money at the same time.



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