The Plastic Packaging Tax – an opportunity to create a world-leading UK recycling infrastructure

19th April 2021 | Recycling

The government’s Finance Bill is currently going through its parliamentary stages in the House of Commons. This Bill includes the Plastic Packaging Tax, which aims to increase the use of recycled content in packaging through a levy of £200 on all plastic packaging components that do not contain at least 30% recycled material.

The British Plastic Federation (BPF) wholeheartedly supports this aim, and we have had positive discussions with Government to ensure that the tax meets the intended policy objectives. However, there are still problems within the tax’s structure that must be addressed as part of the forthcoming parliamentary scrutiny of the Chancellor’s Finance Bill.

As it currently stands, the tax does not account for the regulatory barriers, technical challenges and supply issues that prevent the use of recycled content (recyclate) in packaging. In particular:

  • Taxing products based on how much recyclate they contain: Current regulations – notably, in the food and cosmetics industries – mean that 25% of plastic packaging is incapable of incorporating 30% recycled content. Taxing companies in these cases would be unfair and is likely to result in extra costs for consumers, without an increase in the use of recycled content.
  • Poor availability of recyclate and lack of recycling infrastructure in the UK and Europe: This could disadvantage SME businesses that may not be able to compete with larger brands able to secure recycled material.
  • Measuring recyclate: Recycled content cannot be measured at a packaging item level, so a transparent worldwide certification system is needed. This is vital to prevent fraud and level the playing field for legitimate businesses adhering to the regulations.
    We believe that it is both necessary and possible to address the current issues within the tax structure.

More information available on the website below