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Introduction of Packaging Tax in the UK

Introduction of Packaging Tax in the UK

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by Jordan Girling, November 2018
Jordan assists companies to identify their legal exposure to national WEEE, Batteries and Packaging legislation across Europe and in countries where the company is obligated, assesses the company’s sales arrangements and product types to provide cost-effective and legally-robust recommendations for compliance.
The tax, announced in the UK budget by the Chancellor Philip Hammond on 29 October 2018, will be applied to plastic packaging produced within the UK and plastic packaging imported into the UK which contains less than 30% recycled plastic.

The tax has been introduced following the HM Treasury’s March 2018 consultation on ‘Tackling the plastic problem’. The tax will fund waste management and aims to battle single-use plastics by encouraging manufacturers to use recycled plastics. The amount of the tax has not yet been set; the amount of the tax will likely take into consideration the results of the necessary consultation. 

The introduction of the tax is an action that follows suit with various other government initiatives, such as the living consultation on banning plastic straws, plastic drink stirrers and stemmed cotton buds and the plan to eradicate avoidable plastics by 2042.

As well as the tax on plastics, the budget also mentioned incentives for producers to design packaging so that it is easier to recycle and penalties for packaging which is difficult to recycle. Many other European countries have already adopted similar initiatives. 

During the past year, there have been many publications regarding a charge on disposable coffee cups, more commonly referred to as the ‘latte levy’. The budget did not introduce a charge on disposable coffee cups but the wording of the budget implied that a charge could be introduced in future, if necessary. It is possible that the charge has not been introduced because of industry members such as Costa Coffee adopting various measures themselves.