Have you started planning for the UK Plastic Packaging Tax?

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NOTE: Since this blog was published, the rate of the Plastic Packaging Tax was increased in April 2023 to £210.82 per tonne. From 1st April 2024, the tax will be applied at £217.85 per tonne.


The UK Plastic Packaging Tax is planned to commence on 1st April 2022. It’s aimed at UK producers of plastic packaging, importers of plastic packaging, business customers of producers and importers of plastic packaging, and consumers who buy goods in plastic packaging in the UK. This includes importers of packaging which already contains goods, such as plastic bottles filled with drinks. 

Any plastic packaging which does not contain at least 30% of recycled plastic will be charged a tax of £200 per tonne.  

The goal of the taxation is to generate an increased demand for recycled content plastic, which will create a recycling revolution and see improvements in the way the UK manages waste plastic. 

Should you register for the plastic tax?

Who should register for the tax? 

Any businesses that manufactures or imports ten or more tonnes of plastic packaging over a twelve-month period must register. And they will have to do so by 30th April 2022. But even businesses who make or use less than ten tonnes a year will have to keep records. So, really, this new regime will affect everyone who uses plastic packaging.

What packaging is exempt from the tax? 

There are 4 exemptions from the tax, regardless of how much recycled plastic they contain: 

1: Medical Packaging

2: Transport packaging used on imported goods

3: Packaging used as aircraft, ship and rail stores

4: Components that are permanently designated or set aside for use other than as packaging. 

How to prepare for the introduction of taxation 

If you are using plastic packaging, now is the time to start looking for new products. April 2022 may still seam a long way off but you should give yourself plenty of time to source credible alternatives. 

Start by collating a list of packaging containing plastic material, specifying the amount of recycled content each item contains. Your packaging supplier should be able to provide you with this information on request. Items containing less than 30% recycled content should be your starting point. 

Environmental Impact Rating

We help you to make an informed choice about your packaging by listing all Macfarlane Packaging products with an Environmental Impact Rating. Each product shows an OPRL recyclability rating, the recycling category and the minimum amount of recycled content it contains. 

We are also increasing the amount of recycled content in our plastic packaging. For example our hand applied blown stretch film now contains 30% recycled content and our AirCap® bubble wrap contains 50%. 

Macfarlane Packaging is on hand to support your business. We can help you prepare for the UK Plastic Packaging Tax and uncover opportunities to improve operational efficiencies and reduce costs. Contact us today to arrange a review of your packaging. 


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