ESG

Plastic Packaging Tax 2022: are you ready?

From the 1st of April 2022, the UK government will be introducing a new tax on plastic packaging. Whether you manufacture goods, import them, create or sell, the new plastic tax could have implications for you.
March 29, 2022

Plastic Packaging Tax 2022: are you ready?

From the 1st of April 2022, the UK government will be introducing a new tax on plastic packaging. Whether you manufacture goods, import them, create or sell, the new plastic tax could have implications for you. 

The word ‘tax’ can leave a sour taste in your mouth, but it’s important to remember why the Plastic Packaging Tax (PPT) is being introduced in April. The damage plastic is having not only on our environment but our wildlife and even our food chain is frightening. 

Plastic is found in one of every three fish that is caught for human consumption. It’s also been found in salt, beer and human bodily waste. In a recent University of Exeter study of marine life, all of the studied turtles were discovered to have microplastics inside their stomachs and more than 100,000 marine animals die every year because of plastic pollution. Time for action is now. 

What is the plastic packaging tax?

The core outcome of this new legislation is to incentivise businesses to use more sustainable practices in their manufacturing and shipping processes. The world currently produces a staggering 381 million tonnes of plastic waste annually and even more shockingly, only around 9% of that gets recycled. The government hopes that this new tax will encourage business owners to recycle their plastic instead of throwing it in landfill. 

The new rate of tax will cost businesses £200 per tonne on manufactured or imported plastic packaging that contains less than 30% recycled plastic. 

The plastic tax is a start to encouraging all companies, big and small, to consider how much plastic they use in their packaging, but it’s not the answer to the crisis our planet is facing. 

Why is it being introduced?

Ronald Reagan reportedly once said, “if you want more of something, subsidise it. If you want less of something, tax it.” And that is the whole purpose of the plastic packaging tax. Similar taxes have been put in place for tobacco and alcohol in the hope of reducing the damaging effects from both substances. With this, the Open Philanthropy Project found that in the case of alcohol tax, higher prices do correlate with less drinking and lower incidence of alcohol induced problems. 

The UK government are hoping for the same correlation between plastic tax and a reduction in the amount of single-use plastics that are regularly thrown away. 

Twelve million tonnes of plastic are poured into the ocean every year at a rate of 8 million pieces per day. If we do nothing about this then some estimates suggest this number could grow by as much as 60% by 2030 and treble by 2050, the UK government are introducing the tax in an attempt to slow this dangerous growth rate. 

Who will have to pay Plastic Packaging Tax?

Without changes to their processes, a large number of UK businesses will have to pay the new plastic tax. Any company that imports plastic packaging or products wrapped in plastic to the UK, or manufactures plastic packaging within the UK will all be liable to register for PPT if they exceed the threshold of 10 tonnes of plastic packaging per annum. 

It’s critical to remember that if your business imports products from overseas, you may need to look into your supply chain and gather further information on their packaging policies and plastic use. You will be the ‘liable company’ for the taxable plastic in their packaging. 

What do I need to consider?

If you haven’t already done so, it’s definitely time to start looking what you need to implement into your business to meet the new PPT standards. Here’s a few things to think about:

  • Talk to your supply chain to determine who are affected and who the responsible party is.

  • Discussions around contracts and pricing might be required with your supply chain.

  • Assign roles and responsibilities for meeting new compliance regulations.

  • Ensure you have a dedicated system to reporting, data collecting and invoicing for when PPT is introduced.

What can I do to reduce my use of plastic packaging?

The plastic packaging tax is being introduced to reduce the use of plastic packaging and to incentivise recycling. You’re probably thinking about your own packaging practices more so now than ever before and there are plenty of ways you can truly help the environment by reducing your own plastic use, which may mean you don’t have to register your business for PPT. 

You may be concerned of the added cost that going ‘plastic-free’ may bring to your business but it’s important to know that 61% of UK consumers now limit their purchases of products wrapped in single-use plastics while 66% would be willing to pay more for sustainable goods. So this change in sustainability practice isn’t just a benefit to the environment but it’s something at the forefront of consumer’s minds. 

Large retailers such as Lush guarantee that 90% of their products are packaged in recyclable materials, and the 10% that is non-recyclable can be sent back to them for reuse. 

Of course, sometimes products need to be packaged properly but plastic doesn’t need to be the only choice. Plastic free options include:

  • Mushroom root 
  • Cardboard
  • Paper
  • Material offcuts
  • Biodegradables 
  • Paper tape

Some other areas to consider is not just what you package your your products in but how you package your goods. Consider:

  • Not overpacking your goods. Using the wrong size packaging runs the risk of damaging your products and requires extra filling material equaling more waste.

  • Making your packaging reusable. Can the consumer reuse your packaging for something else? For example Monday’s Child’s packaging can be used as a toy after opening. 

  • Can you use your packaging to educate your audience about recycling and negative impact of single-use plastic? Explain how to recycle your packaging, compost it or reuse it. 

Greenspark is dedicated to tackling the plastic crisis. Through our partnership with the Plastic Bank, our community of earth positive businesses have rescued over 450,000 plastic bottles from the ocean through sales, subscribers and reviews. If you’d like to find out more about how your business can do more and help our oceans, you can book a demo of our platform today. 

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