Submitted by: Laura Clarke August 26, 2021
Since the early 1950’s plastic packaging has cast a shadow over almost every other material in terms of its production and use. Plastic packaging has accounted for half of the global plastic waste.  It isn’t just plastic packaging that’s a problem, between 2013 and 2019, 3% of all beach litter was found to be plastic shopping bags.  The ability to cope with the growing plastic waste has become an overwhelming task. Only 9% of the plastic waste that has ever been produced has been recycled.
Plastic bags, single-use food containers, and other packaging will be subject to a new tax from April 2022 in the UK. The Plastic Packaging Tax (PPT) aims to provide the incentive for businesses and manufacturers to utilize recycled plastics, creating a higher demand for recycled materials instead of new, single-use plastics. As a result, this will see a sharp increase in levels of recycling and collection of plastic waste which would otherwise be sent to landfills.
Which Products Will Be Affected By Plastic Packaging Tax?
A packaging product will be classified as ‘plastic packaging’ if plastic is the heaviest of its components. Then, if the packaging contains less than 30% recycled plastic, it will be subject to PPT.
Even though the tax’s environmental aims are to promote and produce ‘greener’ plastics, packaging labelled as biodegradable and compostable will still be subject to the new tax laws. There are, however, some exemptions to these rules, which include:
- If the plastic packaging contains licensed human medicines
- If the packaging is used in aircraft shipping or railway stores for international journeys
- If the packaging’s primary function is to secure the safe transit of goods and produce
- Exported goods will also be exempt, as long as they are exported within 12 months
Who Is Most Likely To Be Affected By These Changes?
Those most likely to be affected have been outlined on the GOV.UK website. The government has stated that UK manufacturers and importers of plastic packaging, business customers of these manufacturers, and consumers who purchase plastic packaging or goods packaged in plastic will all be subject to these new taxes. They have also outlined some exemptions for smaller companies and those who manufacture and import less than 10 tonnes of plastic packaging per annum. 
How Much Will PPT Cost?
The rate of Plastic Packaging Tax will be £200 per metric tonne of plastic packaging (that contains less than 30% of recycled plastic).
Who Will Have To Pay It?
Primarily it will be paid by the producer of the packaging if the components are produced in the UK. However, anything from large chain stores to corner shops will see the effects of PPT. Both consumer and business owner may notice an increase in prices as the new tax is applied.
The affected businesses will also be subject to better and more regular record-keeping as they will need to maintain records to show the following:
- A total amount of plastic materials used to manufacture the plastic packaging and a breakdown of the weight of the materials utilised for this
- The weight of the exempt and excluded plastic packaging and a reason for it
- The amount of plastic packaging being exported
If the tax is not paid or is simply not recorded correctly, the tax-payer will incur a penalty.
Sustainable Packaging Is On The Rise
There are many ways to make your lifestyle sustainable. Paper packaging has seen a surge in popularity over the last few years. With the likes of Morrisons supermarket producing paper bags in their stores, to new innovative packaging designs for the disabled. No matter who you are, there is always a way to be sustainable.
Overall, the Plastic Packaging Tax should stand as an incentive for consumers and businesses alike to cut down on their consumption and production of single-use plastics. So the next time you’re out shopping for your weekly groceries, stop and think about how much of the packaging on your food is recyclable.
- UON Environment on Single Use Plastics – A roadmap to sustainability, 2018.
- Marine Litter Watch, 2018
- Gov.uk, 2021
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