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Everything you need to know about the upcoming Plastic Packaging Tax

From April 1st 2022, a new Plastic Packaging Tax will take effect in the UK. In the article below we are summarising everything you need to know about this new tax. Furthermore, who is affected, what is involved and what steps you should take. 

With the crackdown on plastic use and consumers actively searching for eco friendly alternatives, the Government have decided to take this one step further. Similarly to the Sugar Tax introduced in 2018, they are applying an upcoming charge for plastic packaging. This isn’t the first time the Government have tried to tackle plastic use in the UK though. You may remember October 2015 where retailers were required to charge 5p for single use carrier bags. This charge, which has increased to 10p as of May 2021 was just the start of the new plastic initiative. 

The Government state that the aim of this new plastic tax is to: Provide a clear economic incentive for businesses to use recycled plastic in the manufacture of plastic packaging. In turn this will stimulate increased levels of recycling and collection of plastic waste. Therefore diverting it away from landfill or incineration.

What will be affected?

Any plastic packaging that does not contain at least 30% recycled plastic will be affected. However any plastic packaging that contains at least 30% of recycled plastic or is not predominantly plastic by weight will be exempt from the new tax. Even if your packaging contains multiple materials, if the majority of the weight is made up by plastic, you will be liable for the new Plastic Packaging Tax. 

Imports of packaging which already contains goods, such as plastic bottles filled with drinks, will also potentially be subject to the tax. Furthermore, products that are designed as single use packaging products such as plastic bags, bin liners or nappy sacks may be affected by the tax. 

Who will be affected?

The new tax will affect UK manufacturers of plastic packaging, importers of plastic packaging, business customers of manufacturers and importers of plastic packaging. As well as consumers who buy plastic packaging or goods in plastic packaging in the UK. 

If your business is in the UK, you will be liable if you perform the ‘last substantial modification’ before the packing or filling process. Operations who import or manufacture less than 10 tonnes of plastic packaging in 12 months will be exempt. 

This tax may untimely effect everyone from large scale manufactures to consumers buying end products as the cost may be passed down to them. Customers will now be actively searching for brands who are avoiding plastic use or use at least 30% recycled plastic. 

In regards to who will need to pay the tax itself. If the packaging or component is produced in the UK, the producer will pay the tax. However if the plastic is imported to the UK, the person whose packaging it is that will need to pay. 

How much will the tax be?

£200 per metric tonne of plastic packaging that contains less than 30% of recycled plastic. 

How to prepare?

Manufacturers and importers of plastic packaging must to register for the tax with HM Revenue & Customs if any of the following apply. At any time after 1 April 2022, the business expects to manufacture or import at least 10 metric tonnes of plastic packaging within the next 30 days. Or if threshold of 10 tonnes was exceeded in the past 12 months. The HMRC has indicated that it will provide further updates before the tax comes into effect in April. 

What records to keep?

Businesses will need to maintain a variety of records for the new tax. This includes the total amount in weight and a breakdown by weight of the materials used to manufacture the plastic packaging. You will also need to keep record of the calculations used to determine if a packaging is plastic and how much recycled plastic it contains. On top of this, the weight of exempted plastic packaging. Additionally the reason for the exemption as well as the amount in weight of plastic packaging exported.


This new tax is a great opportunity for companies and brands to re-evaluate their current packaging, structure, materials and recyclability. Consumers will search for brands who are actively trying to reduce their plastic use. Furthermore they will favour brands who are not willing to pass the tax cost onto them. There are some fantastic alternatives for plastic packaging such as bamboo, wood, natural fibre cloth and palm leaves. As well as alternatives to plastic, this new tax’s objective is to encourage companies to use more recycled plastic. Hopefully this new tax will see brands exploring innovative ways to improve their carbon footprint.

We have collated the top eco friendly alternatives to plastic for packaging in our article which you can read here. The possibilities are endless! 

We hope that helped summarise the new Plastic Packaging Tax of 2022. All information in this article was courtesy of Gov UK and Packaging Europe. For more information on the tax, please visit the Government website as data may change closer to the time.

If you’d like to speak to us about plastic alternatives for your packaging, contact us here.  

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Plant based fibres in packaging

Following our recent blog post on eco friendly packaging solutions, today we are focusing on plant based fibre technology in packaging. With plant fibres being renewable and biodegradable, companies are developing exciting and innovate packaging solutions that are rapidly increasing in popularity. 

Today we are looking at some of the new material developments across the clothing, food and drink industry. Furthermore we will be analysing how plant fibres can help lower the carbon footprint. 


Brands are now actively looking for ways to contribute to the circular economy. They are doing so by introducing products into their range that mean nothing is treated as waste. Whether that be through up-cycling or biodegradable materials, all input to the process should keep circling. Below we have discovered the latest technologies in plant based fibres within the clothing industry. Whilst the materials below are currently used in clothing, this is fantastic opportunities for brands to use these new materials as eco friendly solutions for gift boxes, bags and packaging materials. 


Clothing company Pangaia has developed fabrics that repurpose food waste to look and feel like cotton. First is FRUTFIBER™ which uses responsibility sourced banana leaf fibre, pineapple leaf fibre and bamboo. Secondly we have PLNTFIBER™ which has been created using renewable, underused plants including bamboo, eucalyptus and seaweed. Both have been developed in order to help address issues with the worlds reliance on cotton. These revolutionary new biobased fibres are an innovative alternative. Furthermore they are a way to tackle production and agricultural waste from the fruit industry. 


Many clothing brands are now introducing a Hemp range to their collection. Hemp is one of the most sustainable and economically viable all-natural threads. Some benefits include it growing faster, using less water, clearing the air and regenerating the earth’s soil. Hemp requires 80% less water than conventional fibres and takes only 90 days to cultivate. If we compare materials, cotton requires 10,000 litres of water to produce 1kg, whereas hemp requires only 300 litres. Hemp fibres are 100% biodegradable and can be reprocessed making it a fantastic solution to cotton for clothing. The Hemp Shop and Toad and Co offer a great range of Hemp clothing as an alternative material.


Lenzing’s award winning TENCEL™ fibres are produced by an environmentally responsible process. Also included in Lenzing’s portfolio is REFIBRA™ technology. This involves up-cycling cotton scraps and transforming them into cotton pulp. Lastly we have VEOCEL™ which are the latest generation of fibres with botanic origin. Lenzing are “Committed to establishing the circular economy as a suitable, future oriented concept in the industry to project the earth” and are taking a huge step with their range of diverse fibres. 

Piñatex ®

Ananas Anam have developed an innovative new natural textile made from pineapple waste. Piñatex ® is a natural leather alternative and suitably sourced material which has a low environment impact. In making Piñatex ®, 825 tons of waste leaves were saved from burning which would have released the equivalent of 264 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere!

Food Packaging

With the clothing industry looking for alternatives for cotton, food brands are also actively searching for alternatives to plastic and are turning to the natural world for inspiration. Below we take a look at some of the brands and technologies that utilise plant based fibres as solutions. 


Congra Brands have been using plant-baed fibre packaging bowls for the past 3 years and have recently added more products to their portfolio using their RESPONSIBOWL. Since introducing the packaging, Congra has avoided the use of 2.5 million pounds of plastic packaging. Furthermore, they have accounted they are aiming to make 100% of their plastic packaging, renewable, recycle or compassable by 2025. The plant based fibre bowl is designed by Footprint® who design alternative solutions to single use plastic. The bowl is microwave safe and non stick making it a fantastic option for brands looking to make a change. 


Ocean-based plant fibres to create biodegradable containers and wrappers are increasing in popularity as brands are turning away from plastic. DS Smith have recently announced they will be exploring the use of seaweed across their packaging network as an industry first. The firm will be focusing on its potential use for food produce as a replacement for single use plastic. Evoware won an award for their seaweed based packaging across their Bruxel vegan waffle range.


Sugarcane fibre packaging is another eco friendly alternative to more traditional packaging sources. It uses the fibrous part of the stalk that is often discarded after the juice is extracted. The packaging alternative is renewable, biodegrade, compostable and can used used for food packaging, drinks packaging, domestics packaging, paper and textiles by replacing materials used to make cardboard boxes and plywood. Idealpak have a range of sugarcane tubes that are made from bio-plastic derived from 100% renewable resources. They are the same structure and function as traditional tubes. One brand is who already utilising sugarcane packaging is Bulldog. The personal care brand is the first male skincare brand in the world to use sugarcane as a raw material in their packaging.


Flax fibre material is one of the strongest natural fibres in the world. It’s resistance to heat as well as the ability to bio-degrade makes it a fantastic material for food packaging solutions. The material is stronger than cotton fibres and is resistant to bending. With the multitude of benefits, companies are developing Flax fibre packaging solutions for brands looking for alternatives. SWM offers a range of fibre products that are processed from unused straw and a blend of oilseed flex fibre. 

Drinks Packaging

Similarly to the food industry, drinks packaging manufactures and brands are opting for materials that omit the use for single use plastics. Below are four examples of recent developments and technologies in plant fibres drinks packaging. 


With coffee brands looking to move away from single use pods, technology such as NatureFlex offers sustainable coffee and tea packaging. The compostable packaging films provides superior oxygen and moisture protection. This is extremely important for coffee packaging which is sensitive to oxygen and moisture. Moreover, the film also has an aroma barrier that prevents tea or coffee airing out. Natureflex™ produces opaque options to stop UV damage which is key for tea and coffee packaging.

Wood Pulp

Stora Enso and Pulpex have recently teamed up to create eco-friendly paper bottles and containers made from wood fibre pulp. These products are an alternative to PET plastics as well as glass. The bottles are produced with sustainably sourced formed fibre pump. Furthermore they have a significantly lower carbon footprint then traditional drinks packaging materials. Whisky brand Johnnie Walker have introduced a paper-based bottle made from wood pulp which is sure to inspire other brands. 


Bamboo is a natural ligno-cellulosic fiber obtained from bamboo culm and offers a solution for bottles, cups and straws. Panda Packaging combine tech and nature for a greener future. Furthermore they have developed bamboo cups, flasks that cater for consumers and brands searching for sustainable and reusable solutions. 


This eco friendly and 100% recyclable material offers brands bespoke packaging options. Colourform™ can be tailored to colour and texture of your choosing. The innovation is a thermoformed, plastic-free and moulded fibre packaging alternative. James Cropper created the unique material for a circular economy with a luxurious look and feel. 

Cosmetics Packaging

Lastly, we are taking a look at packaging innovations cosmetics and personal care industry that utilise plant fibres. With the legislation to ban the use of non-recyclable plastics in sachets, alternatives are going to need to be developed and adopted more quickly than ever as consumers seek greener packaging. 

Caster Oil Plant

Geka have launched new sustainable fibre filaments for their mascara brush. The range of exclusive fibres are made of 100% renewable raw material from the castor oil plant. Combined with the properties of Geka’s EOS fibres, the innovative solution is also effective in terms of volume and lengthening. As well as the brushes, Geka offer eco-friendly caps moulded of 100 % PCR-PP material and bottles moulded of 100 % PCR-PET material.


A plastic free solution for creams has been developed by Papacks that consists of plant fibres. Papacks are a pioneer in using plant fibres such as wood pulp, hemp, jute and flax fibres in moulded packaging. The cream pots are moulded into shape through fibre casting before being coated with a specially developed organic coating. The solution is 100% plastic free and the packaging can be alternatively used as a jar. Both of which can be disposed of in paper or organic waste after use. In addition, they remain 100 per cent compostable and biodegradable by microorganisms. Furthermore, Papacks product portfolio covers a wide span of industries including food, pharma and consumer goods.


Ideal for cosmetics, Sulapac is a packaging solution that doesn’t compromise on functionality or aesthetics. As well as dry, wax and oil based substates, Sulapac have now introduced a barrier for water based cosmetics. The premium packaging solution is universal with most lines and moods and uses think walled structures for all impact strength. 


Stora Enso have recently introduced a new paperboard tube for cosmetics that is an alternative to plastic packaging. The advantage of paperboard products is that they are created from renewable resources. Furthermore these will eventually grow back if sustainably managed. In addition to this, renewable materials such as paperboard typically have a much lower carbon footprint than plastics.

With the rise in plant based fibres packaging alternatives and increasing demand for green products, brands will need to consider eco friendly packaging solutions as part of their sustainable marketing strategy. In conclusion, we predict these innovation new materials to drive more sustainable packaging solutions in the future. 

If you would like to talk to us about packaging design drop us a line here

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Eco friendly packaging alternatives to plastic

We are all very familiar with images of swirling plastic islands floating in the middle of the oceans. In many instances, plastic is actually the best option. But what are the Eco friendly packaging alternatives to plastic?

Each year it is estimated that 80 billion plastic bottles are produced, 80% of which end up in landfill sites globally. It takes on average 800 years for a plastic bottle to decompose.

The word plastic has become intrinsically linked with disposable. You could argue that the main challenge is changing consumer habits rather than eradicating plastic packaging completely. 

Firstly, let’s put one point straight, plastic is widely recyclable and often best and safest option for food packaging design. Therefore the issue is often not the plastic itself but how people dispose of it. 

Additionally, millennials are pushing brands to be much more responsible with their approach towards environmental concerns. New market places are being created that push social responsibility and zero waste in an attempt to change shoppers habits.

So what are the alternatives and what is the best strategy to adopt moving forwards?

Sustainability – what is it?

There is currently a lot of buzz around the term sustainable packaging. Sustainable packaging refers to the use of packaging materials that have a minimal environmental impact and carbon footprint.  

This reduction can happen in a number of ways. Firstly, by using 100% recycled or raw materials in manufacture and minimising the production process. Also by extending its life cycle and usability.

In order to be considered sustainable, packaging needs to meet eight specific criteria. As detailed by the sustainable packaging coalition. These are:

  • Is beneficial, safe & healthy for individuals and communities throughout its lifecycle.
  • Meets market criteria for performance and cost.
  • Sourced, manufactured, transported, and recycled using renewable energy.
  • Optimizes the use of renewable or recycled source materials.
  • Manufactured using clean production technologies and best practices.
  • Made from materials healthy throughout the life cycle.
  • Physically designed to optimize materials and energy.
  • Effectively recovered and utilized in biological and/or industrial closed-loop cycles.

Below are a list of strategies and packaging design innovations you can adopt to become more eco-friendly with your packaging.

1. Reduce the amount of packaging.

The first and most obvious strategy is to reduce the overall amount packaging that you use on a product. This could mean moving from six sided cartons to pillow packs. Using smaller boxes or bags not only helps reduce the amount packaging materials. This can also can help reduce your distribution costs and ensure that you’re not shipping ‘dead space’ and filling shelves space more efficiently. Consumers always respond negatively to packs that are substantially bigger than the product inside. Reducing the amount of packaging can positively effect the perception of your brand.

2. Plant based packaging.

Simply put, these are are made out of organic materials. From fungi and seaweed to corn and even food waste.

Choosing the correct material will ultimately depend on what you’re planning to pack. Bio plastics such as those from companies like Good Natured, are often better for items such as food that need protecting from contamination and increasing shelflife. More robust examples could utilise packaging made from much more durable plant materials such as mushrooms.

Polylactic acid (PLA), also known as Bioplastic is a biodegradable polyester derived from renewable plant materials such as corn starch. Bioplastics big advantage is that has a carbon footprint up to 75% less than traditional packaging materials and is now commercially composted. The trade off is that it can be prohibitively expensive on smaller runs.

Mushroom Packaging consists of 100 percent biodegradable and renewable plant based material that can be recycled both in and by nature.

Saltwater Brewery in America have developed a material for their six-pack rings which is not only biodegradable and compostable, but also completely edible! The rings are made from barley and wheat remnants which are a by-product of the brewing process which will actually benefit the sea life if they find their way into the ocean.

3. Recycled materials in packaging.

Aluminum cans are one of the most recyclable materials. Turning recycled aluminum cans into brand spanking new cans uses on average 95% less energy than making new ones from scratch. It has been estimated that the energy saved by recycling one single aluminum can is equivalent to what is needed to run a television for 3 hours.

Brands such as Rightwater have gone plastic-free using 100% recyclable aluminum cans. These are also free from BPA to make them suitable for consumers concerned about possible plastic contaminants in their water.

The most widely recycled plastic globally is Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET). Recycling PET preserves circa two-thirds of the energy usually required to make new plastic bottle which successfully lowers greenhouse gas emissions. PET plastic is an inert material. This means that it resistant to attack by microorganisms so reducing the risk of ground water contamination. As mentioned previously though, the issue is that much of this plastic ends up in the oceans.

Some brands such as Method, successfully use this ocean reclaimed plastic rather than create plastic bottles from scratch. Sports brands such as Adidas are successfully adopting this process in the soles of their trainers.

4. Compostable and biodegradable alternatives.

Compostable packaging is made out of materials that can be composted at home and commercially. Hence why they are often made from plant-based polymer that can break down in compost.

Depending on what the source material is, a commercial compost facility can break down this type of packaging in around 3 months. Domestic composting such as the type in your garden, achieves the same in a little longer at around 6 months.

Fazer and Sulapac to bring an eco-friendly chocolate that consists of handmade pralines from Fazer that are held within the wood chip derived, biodegradable box.

Snact is a snack brand on a mission, fighting food waste and plastic pollution. The packaging is made in conjunction with startup TIPA from surplus fruit and veg that would otherwise be thrown away.

It is just as durable and impermeable as ordinary plastic but it decomposes within just 180 days. This innovative packaging is available in 100% home compostable packaging which is the first of its kind in the UK.

5. Organic coatings.

Most paper or card packaged food products needs a plastic coating to separate the contents from the less durable outer. So whilst it may look compostable and eco friendly, the fact is, it often isn’t.

The UK-based ice cream brand, Northern Bloc, has launched tubs for its products that are recyclable and biodegradable. The tubs are treated with an organic coating instead of plastic to ensure the product stays contained. Additionally this allows the sealant to break down when the packaging is being recycled.

Normally separating the paper and coating is difficult at the recycling stage due to the by-product of the two ends up being too contaminated to reuse. However, the tub protected instead by a fully natural organic compound made from sugarcane which is fully reusable and therefore breaks down naturally.

The Sherwood Group’s Puracoat® has created a product for use in food barrier packaging. Hence, offering food manufacturers an eco friendly solution to conventional plastic, PE and other forms of barrier control. The growing problem is plastic waste as attributed to the development of this. The coating is:

  • Suitable for direct food contact
  • An eco friendly, water-based barrier control
  • Grease resistant to highest ‘Kit 12’ rating
  • Verified independently by Smithers Pira
  • Fully recyclable and biodegradable in line with BS EN 13432
  • Suitable for frozen conditions
  • Microwaveable and ovenable up to 220 C
  • Flexible application levels to meet end use requirements
  • Reduced turnaround time, improving speed to market
  • Used in conjunction with biodegradable window films for an optimum eco friendly solution

6. Refillable parent packaging.

The use of refillable containers operates on a simple principle. The store provides products in bulk, and customers bring their empty refillable containers and fill them with product. The cleaning and personal care sector widely adopts this practice.

Refillable containers reduces both transportation and manufacturing costs. The biggest challenge is acceptance by the public and having the availability of the source containers to fill in the first place.

7. Paper pulp bottles.

There has been lots of innovation in the area of paper pulp bottles. The huge cost of collection and recycling both plastic glass and in some cases aluminium has led to the need for a more compostable solution.

Carlsberg Group has been busy working on 2 new research prototypes. These are 100 per cent bio-based and fully recyclable and made from sustainably sourced wood fibres.

One of these bottles uses a thin, recycled PET polymer film barrier to separate the liquid from the pulp, and the second a 100 per cent bio-based PEF polymer film barrier.

Companies such as Paper Water Bottle for creating bottle structures with an eco-skeleton constructed from a combination of wheat straw, bamboo, husks, sugar cane, and/or bulrush. They are incorporating increasingly less barrier material with more sustainable content. The ultimate goal is 100% biodegradable layer.

8. Bagasse.

Bagasse is a made from dry pulpy fibrous material that remains after crushing sugarcane to extract the juice. It is very similar to polystyrene in that it can be easily moulded into packaging suitable for take-aways. The big advantage though is that, it’s 100% biodegradable and compostable, and as it is a by-product of sugarcane processing, it is much more sustainable to manufacture.

Bagasse takes around 4 months to fully decompose in the ground.

9. Palm leaves.

One of the biggest pet hates for consumers is plastic packaging on fruit and veg on supermarket shelves.

Holy Lama use palm leaves to create stunning packaging for their handmade soap range. The leaves are harvested from the natural waste and leaf fall of the plant and moulded into the delicate clam shapes to contain the soap. The end result is fully biodegradable.

Berlin startup Arekapak is developing packaging for the fresh food industry and beyond using the same palm leaf packaging technology.

They produce their products in cooperation with small producers in rural areas in southern India. This helps support local manufacturers and ensure the employment of workers from the surrounding villages.

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