How to Beat the UK Plastic Tax in 2022

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On 1st April 2022, the UK’s Plastic Packaging Tax (PPT) will come into effect. 

This means that importers and manufacturers of plastic packaging that contains less than 30% of recycled plastic will be charged at a rate of £200 per tonne

The UK and the US are the world’s biggest sources of plastic waste, so it’s no wonder the government is attempting to curb plastic problems. 

Why Is the Plastic Tax in the UK Happening?

In the 1950s, manufacturing technology had advanced enough to begin mass-producing the cheap and versatile material, plastic. 

Plastic is now everywhere, with the global production of plastic surpassing nine billion metric tons — more than half of which ends up as landfill waste. Many industries depend on its multiple applications, in construction, electronics and packaging

Of the 300 million tons of plastic produced each year globally, the UK contributes a staggering 4.9 million. Environmental groups like Greenpeace have put pressure on the government to act, dumping 625 kilos of plastic rubbish outside Downing Street last year in a publicity stunt. 


The Environmental Impact of Plastic

Plastic waste takes decades to decompose. A plastic water bottle can take up to 450 years to break down. Millions of animals are killed by plastic every year due to entanglement or starvation. 

What’s more, when plastic eventually disintegrates, the tiny pieces are known as microplastics

Microplastics can contain harmful organic chemicals and possess carcinogenic properties, and have recently been found in human blood for the first time. The problem is so pressing that the UK government has launched a research project with the University of Plymouth to find out how microplastics enter our oceans. 

Although not enough is known about the health risks of microplastics for humans, they certainly have a detrimental effect on wildlife, accumulating in marine environments. Emerging evidence suggests that the chemical contaminants in microplastics harm marine animals when ingested. 

Why Is the 2022 Plastic Tax Important?

It started with the Plastic Bag Tax in October 2015, which reduced the use of plastic bags by a staggering 95%

But the plastic problem continues to be an issue. The government has also banned the manufacture and sale of cosmetic products that contain microbeads, pledged £20 million to combat plastic pollution and banned plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds in October 2020. 

But is this enough? 

UK plastic waste is being exported to Turkey and then illegally dumped and burned, how do we know what’s really happening to it? 

The plastic tax aims to provide businesses with an economic incentive to use as much recycled plastic in their packaging as possible. As a result, the demand for recycled plastic will increase, hopefully prompting the increased collection of plastic waste to be recycled.  

Who Does the Plastic Tax Effect? 

Mainly, the Plastic Packaging Tax (PPT) will affect businesses and manufacturers of plastic packaging. 

Individual consumers might be impacted if businesses choose to raise their prices because of the tax. However, as plastic packaging contributes to a small amount of the total cost of the product, it’s unlikely that the PPT will raise the price of goods significantly. 

Businesses will need to register for PPT if they’ve imported or manufactured 10 or more tonnes of plastic packaging parts within the last 12 months or are set to do so in the next 30 days. As of the 1st of April, this threshold will change

For manufacturers and importers of plastic packaging that contains less than 30%  recycled plastic, measured by weight, the tax is a steep levy. 

There are proposed exemptions from this tax, mainly for manufacturers of packaging for medicinal products and components that are designed for permanent usage. 

Currently, the PPT does not cover compostable and biodegradable alternatives as the objective is to increase demand for recycled materials. But this definition is still subject to review — so don’t bin your compostable mailing bags yet!

If you’re a manufacturer or importer of plastic packaging components, you will need to assess if you need to register for the tax. You may find the conditions here

But there are ways around avoiding the Plastic Packaging Tax. We’ll look at some ways that you can do this. 

2 Ways to Beat the Plastic Tax

The best way to beat the 2022 plastic tax is to not qualify for the tax in the first place. This involves reassessing your current packaging to not only avoid the PPT but also become a more sustainable company.

Reassess and Reduce Packaging Usage

A lot of the time, products are swamped in bubble wrap, polystyrene pellets and plastic dividers. Although these protect products from damage, you might need to start reevaluating with greener eyes.

Begin by asking “why” in these specific areas:

  • Price
  • Performance
  • Security 
  • Assembly.

For example, is your packaging optimised to protect and deliver your goods? 

A custom packaging solution could prevent the waste of resources and save your business money in the long run.

Small changes like this can help you beat the Plastic Packaging Tax, reduce your overall unit costs and be kinder to the planet. 

Replace Your Packaging with Plastic-Free Packaging

It might not be possible to reduce the amount of plastic you use in your packaging. If that’s the case, then it’s time to look at replacing it. 

To avoid the PPT, plastic-free packaging made from natural, responsibly-sourced materials is the answer.

As compostable and biodegradable packaging are still covered by the PPT (subject to review), let’s look at some alternatives. 

The UK’s First Plastic-Free, and Carbon Neutral, Packaging Supplier

If you’re thinking about replacing your packaging, why not source it from a sustainable packaging supplier.

Our comprehensive range of plastic-free packaging includes cardboard shipping boxes, postal packaging and food packaging, all of which includes high-recycled content — much more than 30%, as stated by the PPT — and can be recycled or composted after use. 

We’re also officially carbon neutral, which means we balance out any CO₂ we release into the atmosphere through climate-positive activities. 

Choosing plastic-free packaging from us means you won’t have to worry about the Plastic Packaging Tax. Plus, you’ll be helping the environment by investing in sustainably-sourced packaging.

Beat the plastic tax with planet-positive packaging. Browse our plastic-free range today and get free UK mainland delivery with no minimum order value.