The new plastic tax is set to take effect in April 2022, but what does that mean for the packaging industry?

At Budget 2017, the government called on a system which can help tackle the usage of single-use plastics, by adding an additional charge to the material.

Why do we need a plastic tax?

There is growing pressure from many institutes and the public to reduce plastic waste. Various environmental campaigners are continuously explaining the real scientific impact of the plastic problem. In truth, we dump an ever-growing figure of hard-to-recycle plastics into our oceans every day. So it is time the government stepped up to help.

Will it affect me?

If you are a UK producer of plastic packaging, importer of plastic packaging or a consumer who buys goods in plastic packaging in the UK, then you are likely to be affected. In short, the tax will mean that businesses are charged a premium for buying single-use plastics for packaging and consumers purchasing said item, might also see the effects in a price creep.

The tax will be charged on any plastic packaging which does not contain at least 30% of recycled plastic, anything outside this will be subject to an additional tax of £200 per tonne.

What does it mean for the packaging industry?

We are likely to see a switch up over the next year while businesses prepare for the shift. Those buying plastic in bulk, which is not recyclable will very soon find their profit margins pinched. Those looking to get ahead of the game early will seek eco friendly packaging options, for example, PP5 where 100% of the product can be recycled.

Businesses need to be aware of the different types of plastic which go into packaging. stretch wrap and bubble wrap, for example, are aspects which are often not considered as they are not the ‘box’ per say, yet they will still be subject to the charge.

While Tri-pack believes that this move is great for the environment, they, like many other businesses are apprehensive of the changes ahead. Tri-pack want to urge businesses and consumers to not opt for a cardboard alternative to their packaging, simply to avoid the tax. Cardboard is incredibly difficult to recycle and a lot of that also ends up in landfill, it will essentially become a case of attempting to fix one problem, but cause another.

What are the packaging alternatives?

There are many alternatives already on the market. PP5, as previously discussed is an eco-friendly and easy to recycle plastic, which should not be subject to the tax. AirCap® HRC 200m Barrier-sealed bubble, is an alternative for hard-to-recycle bubble wrap, as this option contains 50% recycled plastic and therefore will not be subject to the tax. And recycled layer sheets also work really well at securing products in transit and avoiding wasted cardboard.


If you wish to find more information on the proposed plastic tax, you can read the full details on the government website.