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The plastic packaging tax is coming: how ready are you?

22 Aug 2021 —
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The Plastic Packaging Tax is scheduled to come into force in April 2022. Businesses that aren’t prepared could end up paying a tax of £200 per tonne. Fortunately, Antalis Packaging has been making preparations to help its customers minimise the impact of the tax. Here, Antalis' Packaging Technologist Manager, Jason Poxon, shares four ways businesses can ensure they’re not caught out.

The Plastic Packaging Tax is scheduled to come into force in April 2022. Businesses that aren’t prepared could end up paying a tax of £200 per tonne. Fortunately, Antalis Packaging has been making preparations to help its customers minimise the impact of the tax. Here, Antalis' Packaging Technologist Manager, Jason Poxon, shares four ways businesses can ensure they’re not caught out.

Why is the Plastic Packaging Tax being introduced?

The objective is ‘to provide a clear economic incentive for businesses to use recycled material in the manufacture of plastic packaging, which will create greater demand for this material. In turn, this will stimulate increased levels of recycling and collection of plastic waste, diverting it away from landfill or incineration.’ [Source: Policy paper – Introduction of Plastic Packaging Tax from April 2022].

Who will have to pay the Plastic Packaging Tax?

The tax applies to plastic packaging produced within, or imported into, the UK that contains less than 30% recycled plastic. The current proposal suggests that a charge of £200 per tonne will be required to be paid by the first business in the chain to commercially exploit the plastic packaging, although liability can be passed to parties further down the chain. However, businesses that import less than 10 tonnes of plastic packaging in a 12-month period will be exempt.

 

View our Plastic Tax infographic below:

Four ways to minimise the impact of the Plastic Packaging Tax on your business

 

We’ve called them the four Rs: reduce, reuse, recycle and replace. Below, I have outlined how they work in practice:

 

1. Reduce the use of plastic packaging

Reducing the amount of plastic used in packaging might be easier than people think. Stretch film is one of the most common plastic packaging materials, and it is also one of the most over-used. Fortunately, it’s a relatively easy issue to rectify. Through our free consultation and audit, we have helped customers to make savings of up to 70% in cost and waste, simply by matching the correct film to their machine and ensuring the machine is calibrated correctly.

 

Another way of reducing or even eliminating the use of plastic – and other materials – is through smart packaging design that uses just the right amount and combination of materials to offer optimum protection. The packaging technologists at our Smart Packaging Centre have helped many customers to remove plastic from their packaging altogether.

 

2. Reuse plastic packaging

For businesses distributing goods through a closed-loop supply chain – something that is common in the automotive industry – plastic packaging can actually be a benefit in reducing environmental impact and financial costs.

 

We recently designed and produced bespoke, reusable packaging using Correx corrugated plastic for a client whose previous packaging solution entailed wrapping car parts individually in plastic bubble wrap. As well as being single-use packaging, it was a time-consuming process. In contrast, the bespoke design made from Correx can be reused up to 30 times, plus it has reduced the time taken to pack 30 units (one pallet’s worth) from one hour to just 10 minutes. At this stage, it is unclear how reusable plastic packaging such as this will be affected by the tax, but the many benefits mean it has to be worth considering regardless.

 

3. Use recycled plastic packaging

The important figure to remember concerning the Plastic Packaging Tax is 30%. Plastic packaging containing at least 30% recycled plastic will be exempt from the tax. Over the last few months, we have been developing our Antalis Packaging range of tax-exempt products. It’s an ongoing process and we are continuing to work with our suppliers to source and develop more products. Among our current portfolio of tax-exempt products are:

  • White poly mailing bags – 75% recycled content
  • Grey mailing bags – 100% recycled content
  • Sealed Air Mail Lite and Master’In Mailers – bubble liner has 60% recycled content
  • Hand stretch blown film, 17 microns or above – 30% recycled content
  • Loosefill – 100% bio-based and recycled content
  • Airspeed Renew airbags – 50% recycled content

 

4.Replace plastic packaging

Finally, consider replacing plastic packaging with alternative, paper-based products – but only if it doesn’t compromise protection or increase environmental impact. We recently helped a global beauty company to eliminate plastic from its transit packaging. The company had been using plastic air sacs for void fill, so we suggested they trial Fillpak TT, by Ranpak, a flexible, portable void-fill system in which fan-folded kraft paper sheets are crumpled in the converter to form the filling material. The trial was so successful, they went on to buy four units from us.

Preparation is key

There’s no doubt that it will be a challenging period for many businesses as the new tax beds in – as well as the cost of the tax itself, there will be associated administrative costs for all businesses affected. That’s why thinking about the changes you can begin to make now in preparation is so important. Speaking to your packaging supplier is a crucial part of that preparation.

 

At Antalis Packaging, we can perform an audit of current packaging and machinery used and advise on products that are either tax-exempt or other ways to manage the use of plastic packaging. It’s not about getting rid of plastic altogether – sometimes plastic really is the best option – it’s about choosing it carefully and using it wisely.

 

If you would like to arrange a packaging audit or need more advice on how to prepare for the Plastic Tax, contact us now to get started.