Are businesses ready for the Plastic Packaging Tax?

With less than a year to go until the Plastic Packaging Tax is introduced in the UK, a study by Veolia shows that 83% of businesses asked were NOT aware of the tax.

Sitting alongside the Government’s Resources and Waste Strategy, in 2018 the Treasury first announced the tax on plastics and in April 2022 the Plastic Packaging Tax will be introduced in the UK. The tax places a £200 per tonne levy on producers or importers of plastic packaging if they do not include 30% recycled content and will affect all businesses in this area.

Veolia’s research found that the two biggest drivers for acting more sustainably in business are Government mandate (30%) and an environmental conscience (48%). The Plastic Packaging Tax is Government policy aiming to directly increase plastic recycling in the UK and cut carbon emissions. If all plastics were recycled then we would avoid the 61% contribution of their emissions and save between 30-150 millions tonnes of carbon annually (1). Veolia, who collect more than 100,000 tonnes for recycling annually in the UK, recently expanded its operations to be able to recycle dozens of different grades of plastics.

Tim Duret, Director of Sustainable Technology, Veolia UK and Ireland says

“The Plastics Packaging Tax is removing the economic burden of acting more sustainably and levelling the playing field for businesses. In order to continue this momentum, we need to escalate the tax and roll it out across all types of plastics like construction, cars, furniture and electric goods.

“It is essential that we continue pairing our actions with the backing of policy. 84% of businesses we spoke to agreed and support the incremental increase to the Plastic Packaging Tax. This will boost the circular economy, encourage more domestic infrastructure, create jobs, and ultimately reduce the UK’s climate impact.”

Helen Bird, Strategic Technical Manager – Plastics, WRAP

“The end market for recycled plastic is central to circularity and it’s positive to see that ahead of implementation, the Plastics Tax has positively impacted on demand. However, challenges remain. For some packaging it is practical to reach higher levels of recycled content, while for others, the roll out of technological developments will be required to include any.

While we continue to export more than half of the UKs plastic packaging waste, many businesses are struggling to secure enough recycled material to meet targets such as The UK Plastics Pact, and tax obligations. We must continue to work together to drive investment to overcome these challenges and act more sustainably.”

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