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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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