The Plastic Packaging Tax Explained

28 February 2022By ellie Reuseabox

The Plastic Packaging Tax Explained

The Plastic Packaging Tax is an environmental tax that will come into force on the 1st April 2022. It will apply to all plastic packaging manufactured in or imported into the UK that does not contain at least 30% recycled plastic. If you currently use plastic to package your products you may be feeling concerned about what the tax could mean for your business. Keep reading to find out how you can prepare for the tax and minimise its effects.


What is the Plastic Packaging Tax?

This is a new tax that will apply to all plastic packaging that is predominantly plastic by weight and consists of less than 30% recycled plastic. It is charged at £200 per metric tonne or 20p per kilo. The tax is designed to provide a financial incentive for businesses to use recycled plastic in the manufacturing of plastic packaging. This should create greater demand for recycled plastic and improve rates of plastic recycling, thereby reducing the amount of plastic that gets sent to landfill or is incinerated.

plastic packaging

Who Will Be Affected By The Tax?

The tax will affect both UK manufacturers and importers of plastic packaging. In turn this will affect business customers and consumers as the costs are likely to be passed on. The tax will still apply to EN13432 accredited compostable plastics, even though these plastics break down when composted correctly. Check the Full List of items that are affected to see if you are liable.

Smaller companies who produce or import less than 10 tonnes of plastic packaging a year will be exempt. There will also be a small number of exemptions including medicinal packaging or plastic used for transporting imported goods.


What should businesses do next?

HMRC have released Guidance on next steps to take when you are deciding if you need to pay the tax. You will need to register to pay the tax if you plan to manufacture or import more than 10 tonnes of plastic packaging over a 12 month period. Businesses must register by 1st April 2022. Remember to find out if you need to keep records and the format this must be done in. All plastic packaging is assumed to be liable for the tax unless you can demonstrate otherwise.

record keeping

How can I avoid paying the plastic packaging tax?

The Plastic Packaging Tax aims to reduce the production and disposal of single use plastic. There are ways you can limit your exposure to the tax. Keep in mind that the changes you make will not only save you money but also have a positive impact on the environment.


1. Use at least 30% recycled plastic

If you produce plastic bottles, the tax applies to the bottle, cap and any plastic label on the bottle. If this is produced using 100% virgin plastic you will be required to pay the tax. Depending on the product, you may be able to switch to recycled plastic. Consider if you could use at least 30% recycled plastic. Plastic labels can be made smaller or replaced by printing directly onto the bottles.

2. Switch to non plastic packaging

Cardboard, aluminum, tin or glass could all be used in place of plastic. A textiles manufacturer could switch from packaging their products in plastic bags to once used cardboard boxes. Remember to conduct product trials and life cycle assessments to find out if switching away from plastic is the right thing to do for your product.

3. Use Less Packaging

If it is difficult to switch to recycled plastic or a different material, try to minimise the amount of plastic packaging you use. Less packaging means lower costs.

used cardboard boxes


The Plastic Packaging Tax will come into force on the 1st of April 2022. If your business either manufactures or imports plastic packaging, it is important to check to see if you are liable and if so, prepare for the new regulations. If you are liable, ensure you have registered online and look out for any new guidance that gets released. For businesses using large amounts of single use plastic, this is the perfect time to review your practices and see if there is a more environmentally friendly alternative. Contact Reuseabox for more sustainable packaging options.


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