Plastic packaging tax

The plastic packaging tax goes live in April 2022 and applies to predominantly plastic packaging that does not contain at least 30% recycled plastic content

What is the plastic packaging tax?

The plastic packaging tax comes into force from April 2022 and will apply to UK manufacturers or importers of plastic packaging that is ‘predominantly plastic by weight’ that does not contain at least 30% recycled plastic content. Overseen by the Treasury, the tax is part of a wider governmental ambition to reduce the impacts of plastic pollution. Read on for plastic packaging tax guidance, including how you may be impacted.

Does it apply to me?

If you manufacture or import 10 tonnes or more of plastic packaging over a 12 month period from April 2022, you will need to register for the plastic packaging tax. However, all businesses must keep a record of the packaging they manufacture or import, even if they do not need to register for the tax. The guidance from HMRC will help you determine if your business will need to register, click the button below:
gov.uk guidance on who needs to register

De minimis and exemptions for the plastic packaging tax

There is a ‘de minimis’ for those producers who import/manufacture less than 10 tonnes of plastic packaging in a given year. Beaware that HMRC recommends that you should keep suitable records of your plastic packaging, even if you are under threshold to register, as you will need this to evidence that the tax does not apply to you.

There are also three categories of packaging that are not chargeable for the tax by law. These are where the packaging function is secondary to the storage function, where packaging is integral to the product, and packaging that is designed primarily for the presentation of goods.

In addition, there are four explicit exemptions for the tax - plastic packaging that is manufactured for use as immediate medicinal packaging; transport packaging used on imported goods; packaging used as aircraft, ship, or rail stores; components that are permanently designated for use other than a packaging use; and exported packaging.

Further details can be found here on the official government guidance.


When is it taking place?

Primary legislation is in place and the tax will be effective from April 2022. Reporting requirements will not be retrospective before this date, however producers can act now to assess their packaging and the impact of the proposed tax.
Read the Plastic Packaging Tax draft legislation

How much will it cost?

The plastic packaging tax is set at £200 per tonne for plastic packaging containing less than the 30% recycled content threshold. The cost is likely to be passed onto the business customers of the producers, and subsequently the consumers at the end of the value chain.

How do I prove the recycled content of my packaging?

Government have confirmed documents such as product specifications, certificates of conformity and contracts may be used to evidence the weight of a packaging item, the quantity you import or manufacture, and the amount of recycled content. You can find a list of documents to keep as a record and the areas they can be used to evidence on the government website.
Find out more on gov.uk

Official government guidance

On 10 May 2021 government released official guidance on the plastic packaging tax. Get up to speed on the detail of how your organisation will be impacted.
Read the government advice to get your business ready

Further information for businesses

Government has also released further guidance for businesses impacted by the plastic packaging tax, covering key definitions on what plastic packaging is and is not chargeable for the tax, about registration, record keeping and how to access further help and support:

Read the further information for businesses.



What do I need to do now?

Government have yet to release detailed guidance, so the details surrounding the methodology and processes producers will have to adhere to are not yet fully known. However, we strongly advise you to start preparing now to ensure that your business is fully prepared and ready for when the plastic packaging tax is implemented. Here is what you need to do:

1. Make sure you stay fully informed

It is important that you stay abreast of the latest updates from government as they will directly impact your business, from the official consultation responses to the draft and implemented legislation. Being fully informed means you can ensure your wider team not only know the impacts to expect, they can respond proactively sooner. We inform our members of important milestones and updates and we always publish the latest news on our website.

2. Ensure you are capturing the right data

The plastic packaging tax will require much higher levels of data reporting than the current packaging compliance requirements. You don't need to wait until the tax is implemented to start this. By collecting this level of detail now, you will achieve full transparency of the potential impact on your business and you will be able to efficiently comply when the tax comes into force. Our team can get you started with this requirement now, contact us to find out how.

3. Start modelling your costs 

Once you have control of your data, you can model your costs to assess the full impact of the plastic packaging tax before it comes into force. Our team are on hand to enable you to do this with the minimum of fuss, contact us to find out more.

4. Adapt your strategy ahead of the legislation implementation

The main driver of the plastic packaging tax is to incentivise better material use and increase the amount of recycled plastic used in packaging placed on the market. With full control of your data you can start to take strategic decisions about how to reduce the environmental impact of your plastic packaging and your plastic packaging tax costs. Our team are again on hand to help you do this, contact us to find out more.



Free training webinar

If you are a member of Ecosurety you can watch our free training video to get up to speed. Presented by head of policy and innovation, Robbie Staniforth, this webinar informs stakeholders about the key issues outlined in the published draft legislation for the plastic packaging tax.
Watch now

We are here to support you

If you think you are affected by the plastic packaging tax, we can assist you through data assurance and analysis, including cost forecasting to model how your business will be impacted so that you can be fully prepared - whether you plan to budget for the increased costs or increase the recycled content of your plastic packaging.
Request plastic packaging tax support now

Future services and support

We are developing further services to support our members with the future requirements of the tax and are working with government and industry to seek further clarification on the mechanics and requirements of the tax. We will continue to offer guidance as legislation is updated and we will let our members know what further support we will provide in the future.

Find out more about packaging EPR

Discover if other Extended Producer Responsibility measures will impact you, including modulated fees and the Deposit Return Scheme.
Find out more