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Plastic Packaging Tax | Three Quarters Of UK Businesses Unaware Of New Tax

Plastic Tax 2022

As of 1st April 2022, the new plastic packaging tax is in effect in the United Kingdom. Under this tax, businesses who do not use plastic packaging with a minimum of 30% recycled content will have to pay a £200 per tonne levy.

This tax covers all plastic packaging materials used in all stages of the supply chain. This includes plastic films designed to protect either produce or product boxes and their content, and it covers single-use consumer packaging such as single-use bottles, plastic bags and disposable cups and plates.

Materials excluded are those with the primary function of storge, such as toolboxes and first aid kits, and plastic that is an integral part of a product, such as asthma inhalers or coffee pods. Plastic for presentation, such as shop fittings and display stands, and transport packaging are also excluded.

HMRC Plastic Packaging Tax

The first consultation for this plastic packaging tax was part of the government’s 2018 spring budget; this received the largest response to a treasury consultation ever, with over 162,000 respondents in the two months between 13thMarch to 18th May.

The official announcement came in the autumn budget of the same year, with the establishment of a minimum threshold coming later in 2020. This threshold made exempt businesses that produce less than 10 tonnes of packaging per year as a way of protecting smaller companies.

There have been critics of this tax, with many arguing that it will be almost impossible to police. If it is not enforced properly – fairly across all businesses – then it will ultimately fail to achieve anything beyond making life more difficult for the businesses who do try to follow the rules.

Others are arguing that the tax doesn’t go far enough; many are arguing that only 30% recycled content is a drop in the ocean when it comes to the amount of plastic packaging waste that is produced. Some are even calling for a much larger tax to be placed on 100% of plastic packaging materials that are not recycled or reusable.

However, not all voices are criticising, with some saying that this tax is an important step in the direction of a fully circular economy. Here at Let’s Recycle It Ltd, what concerns us more than this is that the majority of businesses in the UK are actually unaware the tax is even in place.

Packaging Production

A YouGov survey conducted by Veolia found that 77% of the United Kingdom’s retail and manufacturing businesses do not know about this new plastic packaging tax. This number is frankly shocking, as it means more than two thirds of the companies in these sectors are already at risk of facing heavy fines.

Of those surveyed, only 22%, or one fifth, of businesses reported they had already started increasing the recycled content of the plastic packaging they use, or had started to use alternative materials.

Even though this tax has been in the works for four years, it is clear there has been a fundamental failure of communication between the government and the businesses that this tax will affect. Making businesses aware of this new legislation needs to be a matter of urgency, as much for the sake of the environment as for the businesses to avoid the £200 per tonne charges.

At Let’s Recycle It, we want businesses to be fully aware of their obligations to use recycled packaging materials. Not only will the increased demand for recycled material mean less plastic waste goes into landfill and becomes pollution, but less virgin material being used will heavily reduce carbon emissions 

Offset Carbon Production

If all of the UK’s plastic packaging had a minimum of 30% recycled content, then around 2.9 million tonnes of carbon emissions would be avoided every year. This would be equivalent to the carbon sequestration of having around 20 million more trees in the country.

Recyclable Food Packaging

There are some who had been warning the government that businesses were not yet ready for this tax, with the Food Packaging Association (FPA) alerting the government in February that up to 80% of the companies in their industry were unprepared.

The FPA reported to the government that many found the guidance provided to be unclear and unhelpful, including the webinar and other materials provided by HMRC.

Plastic Packaging Tax 2022

However, as stated earlier this tax was first introduced four years ago, and it has received a fair amount of media coverage – we were reporting on this almost two years ago. It was also the most responded-to treasury consultation ever, with over 162,000 responders. So, clearly people have known about this tax for some time now; was four years really not enough notice for businesses to prepare?

Whether or not businesses were given fair warning of this tax, it is now in place. Those who did not prepare for it need to immediately start prioritising making the necessary adjustments to ensure they are operating in line with regulations. If they don’t, then they should prepare themselves to pay heavy fines. 

Packaging Recycling

At Let’s Recycle It, we have been working tirelessly for years now to increase the amount of plastic that gets recycled and to transition our economy towards a more circular model. We have recovered hundreds of thousands of tonnes of plastic waste, rescuing it from landfill to have it recycled and kept in use within the economy.

As well as reducing the amount of plastic that becomes pollution in the natural environment, we have been helping manufacturers become more sustainable by providing them with the highest quality recycled plastic pellet for their production.

We are perfectly positioned to help businesses who weren’t ready for this plastic packaging tax to get ready for it; we can provide you with the most sustainable and most profitable outlets to have your plastic waste recycled and we can supply you with the finest recycled plastic pellet available anywhere on the market.

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