the plastic packaging tax
A few key plastic packaging tax points
• Companies will not be taxed if they are selling under 10 tons of plastic packaging per year.
• But, they will still have to register even if selling less than 10 tons.
• The business who completes the ‘last substantial modification’ is liable to pay the tax.
• Companies may face secondary liability if the tax is not paid before the plastic reaches them.
Records to keep.
1. Total amount in weight and a breakdown by weight of the materials used to manufacture plastic packaging, excluding packaging which is used to transport imported goods.
2. Data and calculations used to determine if a packaging component is, for the most part plastic, and how much recycled plastic it contains.
3. Weight of exempted plastic packaging and the reason for the exemption.
4. Amount in weight of plastic packaging exported, and therefore the allowed relief from the tax.
The Plastic Packaging Tax explained
The Plastic Packaging Tax is a new tax that will be introduced on 1st April 2022. The tax is designed to encourage the use of more recycled plastic and will apply to plastic packaging produced in, or imported into, the UK and that does not contain at least 30% recycled plastic.
The rate of the Plastic Packaging Tax will be set at £200 per tonne of plastic packaging placed onto the UK market.
The Plastic Packaging Tax will apply to businesses that manufacture or import plastic packaging components or import packaged goods into the UK. The UK government has estimated that it will affect around 20,000 packaging producers and importers.
Small operators who import or manufacture less than 10 tonnes of plastic packaging per year will be exempt from paying the tax. Once a business meets the 10 tonnes de minimis, it must register with HMRC. All businesses will be required to report plastic packaging data and pay for the tax quarterly.
The tax will apply to plastic packaging on a per component basis. Multi-material components will be classed as plastic packaging if they are predominantly plastic by weight. A component must meet the following definition of ‘packaging’ to be liable for the tax:
“Is a product that is designed to be suitable for use, whether alone or in combination with other products, in the containment, protection, handling, delivery or presentation of goods at any stage in the supply chain of the goods, from the producer of the goods to the consumer or user.”
This definition captures consumer goods, such as cling film, bin bags and party cups, in addition to plastic packaging components to contain food, goods and transport of multiple items.
Plastic includes bioplastics, including biodegradable, compostable and oxo-degradable plastics.
Recycled plastic is plastic that has been reprocessed from recovered material, by using a chemical or manufacturing process, so that it can be used either for its original purpose or for other purposes. This does not include organic recycling.
This is part of a raft of environmental legislation that will be affecting businesses and are aimed at encouraging decisions that will positively impact the environment. The government hopes the Plastic Packaging Tax will stimulate the market for recycled material and encourage the inclusion of recycled content in packaging designs.
Who pays the tax?
The responsibility for paying the Plastic Packaging Tax will fall predominantly with importers of filled or unfilled plastic packaging and UK manufacturers of plastic packaging.
The tax will only apply if the business places more than 10 tonnes of plastic packaging onto the UK market.
The business that completes the ‘last substantial modification’ to the plastic packaging or component will be liable for the tax. If the last substantial modification is made at the point where empty packaging is filled with goods/products, then it will be the substantial modification point prior to this. Care and due diligence will be applied to the tax point. If you believe the Plastic Packaging Tax should have been paid before the packaging reaches your business, and it is not clearly stated on invoices, you may face secondary liability.
At what point does the tax apply?
HMRC defines the plastic components as liable for the tax when ‘finished’. This is when the last substantial modification is made.
For plastic packaging that is imported into the UK and already contains goods or products, the tax will apply to the packaging when they are imported, with no additional substantial modifications made.
The last substantial modification is the last manufacturing process that makes a significant change to the nature of the packaging component, as it alters one of the following characteristics of the packaging component:
Shape, Structure, Thickness, Weight.
For other packaging it will be the last substantial modification before the packaging is filled with products. This includes extrusion, moulding, layering, and laminating, forming, and printing. Not all manufacturing processes that change the shape or structure will be considered as substantial modification. For example: blowing or otherwise forming a packaging component from a preform, cutting film to size or cutting formed trays out of a sheet, gluing labels to a tub or heating a shrink film label onto a bottle, sealing such as attaching a film lid onto a tub.
Plastic Packaging Tax reporting requirements
If your business has placed more than 10 tonnes of plastic packaging onto the UK market in the past 12 months, you will need to register with HMRC.
If you have placed under 10 tonnes of plastic packaging onto the UK market in the past 12 months, then you will not need to register prior to April 2022. HMRC advises that even if you do not meet the liability to register and report your plastic packaging for the tax, you should keep records to demonstrate this.
• Total amount in weight and a breakdown by weight of the materials used to manufacture plastic packaging, excluding packaging which is used to transport imported goods.
• Data and calculations used to determine if a packaging component is, for the most part plastic, and how much recycled plastic it contains.
• Weight of exempted plastic packaging and the reason for the exemption.
• Amount in weight of plastic packaging exported, and therefore the allowed relief from the tax.
Items that may be used for the evidence of recycled content in plastic packaging could be product specifications, contracts, audits, production certificates, accreditations, and international standards.
Reporting requirements and supply chain governance will become more important for those businesses affected by the Plastic Packaging Tax and Extended Producer Responsibility, and will require additional time for data gathering.