<img src="https://secure.leadforensics.com/133892.png" alt="" style="display:none;">

On April 1st 2022, a new UK plastic packaging tax came into force. But what does it mean for food businesses? Who will be affected and how is the industry responding? This blog takes a closer look…

What is Plastic Packaging Tax (PPT)?

PPT will apply to any plastic packaging that’s made in or imported into the UK at a rate of £200 per tonne and doesn’t contain at least 30% recycled plastic. Packaging that contains 30% or more recycled plastic will not be chargeable for the tax.

Who will be affected by PPT?

Plastic packaging is used by a variety of food businesses, such as fresh food producers who import plastic packaging to seal their products. So, PPT will have a significant impact. Registration for PPT is compulsory for any business that manufactures or imports more than 10 tonnes of plastic packaging, regardless of the amount of recycled plastic they contain.

Food businesses may have to reassess their record-keeping techniques as they’ll need to provide documentation that show:

  • The total amount in weight and a breakdown by weight of materials used to manufacture the plastic packaging
  • The weight of exempted plastic packaging and the reasons why it’s exempt

You can read the latest guidance from the HMRC by clicking here.

plastic packaging

Why was PPT introduced?

According to the HMRC policy paper, the aim of the PPT is to “provide a clear economic incentive for businesses to use recycled plastic material in plastic packaging”. This will help create demand for recycled materials and, in turn, encourage increased levels of recycling and plastic waste, reducing the amount that ends up in landfill.

What's the food industry's reaction to PPT?

There are conflicting views on how the PPT will impact the food industry moving forwards. Barry Turner, Plastic & Flexible Packaging Group Director at BPF (British Plastics Federation) spoke of his concerns in an interview to Aegg: “I don’t feel overly positive in the way that this tax is designed,” said Turner.

“It will increase the cost to the consumer (estimated at £200M) at a time when we are coping with Brexit and the economic ramifications from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

However, food packaging expert Neil Hansford believes PPT can bring in “a new era of innovation” to the food industry.

“This new tax presents a real chance for the packaging industry to think outside the box and develop innovative solutions and new recycling technologies to help plug the gap in the supply of recycled materials,” Hansford told Packaging Gateway.

“Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) is widely recognised as an effective technology, proven to reduce food waste in the industry… what we hope to see with PPT is more of the food manufacturers that require atmospheric protection for their products using more alternative plastics, which are still compatible with MAP. This provides the optimal green solution that would reduce both food and plastic waste.”

uk plastic packaging

What are food businesses doing to tackle plastic packaging?

Over one hundred companies have signed up to WRAP’s UK Plastics Pact’, which brings together businesses to tackle the plastic waste crisis. Organisations signed up to the initiative have committed to reach four targets by 2025:

  1. Eliminate problematic or unnecessary single-use packaging through redesign, innovation or alternative (reuse) delivery model
  2. 100% of plastics packaging to be reusable, recyclable or compostable
  3. 70% of plastics packaging effectively recycled or composted
  4. ​​​​​​​30% average recycled content across all plastic packaging

You can see the full list of businesses who have signed up by clicking here.

Other initiatives we’ve seen UK food and beverage companies undertake include:

  • Innocent Drinks, who have reduced plastic in its 900ml juice and 420ml Juicy Water bottles, saving them 273 tonnes of plastic each year
  • Waitrose & Partners, who have reduced the amount of plastic in its own brand Easter eggs by almost half (44%). The UK supermarket has also reduced the amount of plastic in its British strawberry punnets and toilet roll to save a further 29 tonnes of plastic every year
  • Sainsbury’s, who have replaced polystyrene in its own brand two litre ice cream tubs, meaning that 215 tonnes of plastic is now recyclable

plastic packaging

How we can help

Technology is already being used as a tool to help packaging producers to provide greener options for its customers, as well as minimise food waste. At Columbus, we’ve developed a range of solutions tailored to the food industry which can help you improve accuracy and consistency. If you’re interested in finding out what solutions are available to you, get in touch by clicking on the button below.

Contact us

Regulatory changes is just one part of the future of food…

From regulatory changes and changing consumer demands to fragmented supply chains, the ability to pivot on demand has never been more important in the food industry. Our guide examines the current state of the food industry, as well as looking forward to the future. Click on the button below to grab your copy.

The future of the professional services industry

Discuss this post

Recommended posts

The natural switch from manual processing towards automated software had been slowly happening. But due to the number of processes within your food manufacturing operations, from your warehouses (picking, packing etc.) to your offices (data processing), it’s no surprise that 62% of manufacturers are planning to implement robotics and automation in 2023.
These are testing times for the food and drink industry, with UK food prices hitting 13.3% in December 2022, the highest since 2005 when records began. With several factors in play, not least the rising cost of energy, raw materials and transport, alongside geopolitical uncertainty, recruitment gaps and the onset of a recession, supply chain issues continue to hinder progress for many food businesses.
2022 saw several food industry trends emerge, from the rise of plant-based diets to increased sustainable initiatives highlighted by COP27 in November last year. So, what does the future have in store for the food and beverage industry in 2023? In this blog post, we’ll be covering some of the top trends, from the up and coming technology in the food and beverage industry to what today’s consumers expect:
The use of automation in the food industry has increased in recent years, allowing businesses to gain full visibility of their supply chain, protect workers from serious injury and reduce labour costs. With this in mind, it’s no surprise to hear that 62% of surveyed manufacturers plan to implement robotics and automation in 2023.
Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen sustainability becoming a hotter topic than ever before, with more consumers supporting food businesses who adopt an ethical mindset. However, with instability throughout the food supply chain caused by the recent energy crisis, how can you become more sustainable whilst minimising costs? In this episode of ColumbusCast, I’m joined by Andrew Newton, Food Consultant at Columbus, and special guest Jim Laird, CEO of ENOUGH Food, to discuss how food manufacturers can become develop better sustainable practices.
right-arrow share search phone phone-filled menu filter envelope envelope-filled close checkmark caret-down arrow-up arrow-right arrow-left arrow-down