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Source: ISTOCK

U.K. Introduces Plastic Packaging Tax, Potentially Reducing the Demand for Virgin Plastic

By Sophie Hirsh

In response to the overwhelming amount of plastic polluting the planet, the U.K. government is implementing a new plastic packaging tax. As explained in a summary of the plans on the government website, there will be a tax on any plastic packaging with less than 30 percent recycled content, beginning in April 2022.

According to the summary and the full consultation document on this tax, back in March 2018, the U.K. government put out a call for evidence that the tax system needed to tackle plastic packaging, and a whopping 162,000 responses were sent in. Many replies provided evidence that new plastic is actually cheaper than recycled plastic, which is why so many producers prefer virgin plastic. So in order to encourage more producers to use recycled plastic, which has a lower environmental impact, the government is taxing any packaging that doesn't have at least 30 percent recycled content. 

At the moment, packaging producers only pay about 10 percent of the cost associated with taking care of the packaging waste, a press release on the government website explained. The new tax is a massive pivot, as it will force manufacturers to cover the entire cost of dealing with the waste. So as long as that amount is more costly than the price of transitioning to 30 percent recycled plastic, this will be a great incentive for plastic packaging producers to source recycled plastic instead of new plastic.