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UK Plastic Packaging Tax Overview & How RPM Program Can Assist


UK Plastic Packaging Tax has Implications and Conditions for Many Organisations

The UK Plastic Packaging Tax came into effect in April of 2022 leaving a lot of large corporations and manufacturers concerned about costs being placed on businesses and eventually onto consumers; and a lot more companies, simply confused about the whole taxation initiative. 

The new levy is designed to provide incentives to businesses to use recycled plastic in the production of plastic packaging. Now businesses manufacturing (or importing) 10 tonnes or more a year of plastic packaging, that contains less than 30 per cent recycled plastic will be taxed at £200 a tonne. Plastic packaging containing at least 30 per cent recycled material will be exempt from the tax.

There are exemptions, such as plastic packaging used in medical products but food contact packaging is not exempt, and manufacturers are concerned that food contact packaging is not easy to recycle and recycled content is problematic when food integrity, preservation and protection are of paramount importance.

Food packaging makes up around 40 per cent of packaging in the UK and there some that advocate a more strategic approach could have been used, with certain food contact items exempt until technology has advanced to allow recycled content. However, as it stands, the UK Government has not implemented any amendments.

So what are the basic facts?

  • The tax is chargeable for organisations who are producing/importing over 10 tonnes of plastic packaging per year, which does not contain at least 30% recycled material.

  • Both UK manufacturers of plastic packaging and importers of plastic packaging are liable.

  • Note, it can also can impact customers of manufacturers and importers of plastic packaging who must maintain records of plastic packaging purchased and confirm that the tax has been paid.

  • If the plastic packaging does contain 30% or more recycled material, organisations are still required to report on this to HMRC but will not be subject to the tax charges.

  • There are some exceptions, such as for the packaging of human medicine and also tertiary plastic used to deliver goods in transit for international aircraft, shops and railway journeys.

  • The tax came into force on 1 April 2022 and is charged at a rate of £200 per tonne.

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

  • If you manufacture or import >10 tonnes, you must submit a tax return from the date when the threshold is reached, your liability date and thereafter every quarter from that date.

Businesses need to understand their liability, the definitions of plastic packaging, how to calculate and record plastic components of multi-material packaging, how to record and verify recycled content, definition of recycled content, verification methods and how to make a submission. It can be far from straight-forward.

The RPM Program can assist with deciphering the new Tax requirements.  We can help with terminology, definitions, plastic indexing tools to record plastic types and quantities and a framework for verification of the evidence such as supplier specifications and statements.

Contact us for a free consultation: