Government

Government publishes responses to Plastic Packaging Tax consultation

The UK Government has released a summary of responses to its Plastic Packaging Tax consultation, having extended the consultation period to August this year.

The tax, which was originally proposed in the Treasury’s 2018 Statement, was announced in the 2020 Budget as a levy of £200 per tonne on all domestically manufactured or imported packaging containing less than 30 per cent recycled content from April 2022.

Plastic flakeAlongside the cost per tonne of packaging, the consultation also welcomed opinions on the scope of the tax, how the tax will be collected and enforced, and who will be liable to pay the tax. These issues were included in the draft legislation for the tax, which was published alongside the summary of responses.

The Treasury stated that the majority of the 291 respondents agreed with the majority of proposals in the consultation, with the summary document setting out the Government’s responses to a small number of concerns, such as those relating to competitiveness and supporting UK manufacturers.

In response to questions relating to the scope of the tax, the Government confirmed that the draft legislation for the tax defines ‘plastic’ as a material consisting of polymer to which additives or substances may have been added, with cellulose-based polymers classified as an exception.

Responding to a concern about the liability of the tax, on which respondents generally agreed that UK manufacturers should be liable, the Government intends the tax point should arise at the final stage of conversion – after ancillary processing, but before the packaging is packed or filled.

Robbie Staniforth, Head of Policy at Ecosurety, said: “Today’s announcement provides further clarity and certainly for the recycling sector. The mere threat of this legislation over the past few years has already stimulated market development for recycled plastics.

“It is now not just fashionable to include recycled content in packaging but an imperative. Many plastic packaging producers have already advanced their plans and relationships with the resource sector and this draft legislation is only likely to increase the level of cross-sector engagement.

“While the tax continues to represent a blunt instrument, due to the lack of hypothecation of revenues towards the development of recycling, the simplicity of definitions make clear how it can be avoided through the inclusion of recycled content.

“Collaboration, innovation and infrastructure will doubtlessly be needed if environmental outcomes are to be improved, whether it be de-packaging, the advancement of reusable packaging or the holy grail of film to film plastics recycling.”

Matt Davies, Industry and Sustainability Manager at the British Plastics Federation (BPF), commented: "The British Plastics Federation (BPF) is pleased that Her Majesty’s Treasury listened to concerns from across the supply chain and understood that details within the Plastics Packaging Tax needed to be amended to ensure that the competitiveness of UK companies was not undermined.

We continue our dialogue with the Treasury, however, as issues remain when it comes to the available supply of recycled material and there are also particular regulatory barriers to including it. For the UK to meet future demand for recycled plastic, we would like to see the consistent collection of materials for recycling across the whole of the UK and for all plastics to be collected."