UK Plastic Packaging Tax: An Overview

Blog Post Feature Image - UK Plastic Packaging Tax

From April 2022, a new tax on plastic packaging will be in place in the UK. Alongside the UK government, the HMRC has published guidance with the aim of helping businesses prepare for the Plastic Packaging Tax (PPT). This post highlights the main takeaways from this guidance providing information on the products that are affected, how much the tax will cost, who is liable to pay the tax and how.


What is the plastic packaging tax?

PPT will be a tax on the plastic packaging manufactured in or imported into the UK, where the plastic used in its manufacture contains less than 30% recycled plastic. Where 30% or more recycled plastic is used, no tax will be due, but the plastic packaging will still need to be accounted for. The tax will be due on finished packaging components. Where plastic packaging components are imported, this will include products that are both empty or pre-filled.


Who is Liable to pay the plastic packaging tax?

PPT will be charged from 1 April 2022 and it is likely that everybody will see its effects. If you are a business that manufactures or imports 10 or more tonnes of plastic packaging over a 12-month period you may be liable to pay the PPT. The tax will be charged for a finished product that has “undergone its last substantial modification” such as extrusion, moulding, forming or printing. If a business is in the UK, it will be liable for PPT if it performs the “last substantial modification before the packing or filling process”. The business that packs or fills the packages will be liable for PPT only if it also “undertakes a substantial modification before the packing of filling process”. Importers will also be liable for PPT if the packaging they import has undergone its last substantial modification.


How much is the tax?

Packaging manufactured in or imported into the UK that does not contain 30% recycled plastic will incur the tax at the rate of £200 per metric tonne.


What packaging is included in the tax?

PPT will be a tax on plastic packaging that contains less than 30% chemically or mechanically recycled plastic. This will also apply to bioplastics, biodegradable, compostable and oxo-degradable plastics. In cases where packaging is made using multiple materials (paper/foil and plastic) if the packaging contains a larger proportion of plastic, the weight of the entire packaging will be considered plastic and will be taxable as such.

PPT will be levied on products “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”. Plastic food trays, film used to protect produce, reusable plastic crates, plastic carrier bags and disposable cups all constitute packaging components liable for the tax. But even plastic packaging that does not fit the definition provided but is designed as single-use consumer packaging will be taxable.


What packaging is exempt from the tax?

There are three main categories of packaging components that are exempt from PPT.

  • products where the packaging is not the primary aim of the product but is instead there to store the good. This exemption includes items such as toolboxes, earphone cases and first aid boxes.
  • products such as inhalers and room deodorisers, where the packaging is an essential aspect of the product that will be used by the consumer.
  • products such as shop fittings and sales display shelves, which are created specifically for presenting products to consumers and will be re-used to this end.

Plastic packaging that is used to transport imported goods, used in aircraft, ship and rail goods stores, used to package medicinal products or that has another permanent use other than packaging will also be exempt from the tax. If the packaging is intended for export and is exported within 12 months, it is also exempt from the tax.


How will the PPT impact businesses?

All manufacturers and importers of plastic packaging will need to register with HMRC regardless of the amount of recycled plastic they use unless they produce or import less than 10 metric tonnes of plastic packaging in any 12-month period. A business must register if at any time after 1 April 2022, it expects to manufacture or import at least ten metric tonnes of plastic packaging in the following 30 days or it has manufactured or imported at least ten metric tonnes of plastic packaging in a 12-month period ending on the last day of a calendar month. Imports that have not cleared customs or are not in free circulation in the UK are not included within these calculations.

Businesses will be subject to increased record-keeping as they will need to maintain records to show:

  • The total amount in weight and a breakdown by weight of the materials used to manufacture the plastic packaging (excluding packaging which is used to transport imported goods)
  • The data and calculations used to determine if a packaging component is, for the most part, plastic and how much-recycled plastic it contains
  • The weight of exempted plastic packaging and the reason for the exemption
  • The amount in weight of plastic packaging exported, and therefore the allowed relief from the tax.

Even where the recycled content test is met, businesses will need to register, file, and retain evidence to show that the relevant plastic packaging meets the threshold. Plastic packaging will be assumed not to meet the recycled content test unless it is shown to do so.


Click here to see the latest guidance from the HMRC on the Plastic Packaging Tax


At Foxpak, we are working tirelessly with our material suppliers and manufacturing partners to find a solution to the plastic packaging tax. As a primary packaging supplier to the food and beverage industry, food safety is one of our main concerns. However, it is still unclear how the PPT will align with current EU/UK legislation which specifies that post-consumer recycled (PCR) packaging cannot be in direct contact with food products. Paired with the limited availability and high cost of PCR materials, We will continue to research a commercially sustainable and safe solution to the Plastic Packaging Tax.


If your brand is looking to invest in quality packaging, our team will guide you through the entire process, providing recommendations on increased sustainability, helping to improve efficiencies and adding expert and award-winning value to your end product.


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How To Design Flexible Packaging For A Circular Economy

Designing flexible packaging for a circular economy blog post feature image

We can all agree that waste prevention and the ability to reuse packaging are driving factors of creating a circular economy. However, there is an immediate urgency in the flexible packaging industry to stop waste products polluting the environment. The most effective way to do this right now is to increase the rate and efficiency at which we recycle waste packaging.


Flexible packaging represents half of the primary food packaging in Europe. It is a resource-efficient packaging choice that plays a key role in protecting the products it holds, preventing food waste and providing important packaging functionality. The wide-ranging benefits of flexible packaging, such as its low weight and minimal use of materials, lead to it being an increasingly popular packaging choice. However, the properties that make flexible packaging so desirable also contribute to its reputation of being notoriously difficult to collect, sort and recycle in an economically viable way.


The concept of a circular economy is recognised as a solution to the issues resulting from a “take-make-dispose” approach to consumption. For flexible packaging, the transition to circular starts with design. As well as meeting core design requirements such as product protection, brand messaging and regulatory requirements, companies must choose packaging that also meets the end of life design requirements. This means packaging that is easily collected and sorted, suitable for efficient and high-quality recycling and can be reused in new market applications.


CEFLEX, The Circular Economy for Flexible Packaging initiative, launched a comprehensive set of guidelines to help the flexible packaging value chain design recyclable consumer packaging solutions and accelerate a circular economy. The Designing for a Circular Economy (D4ACE) guidelines focus initially on polyolefin-based structures such as PE, PP and PE/PP mixes as these represent over 80% of consumer flexible packaging in the European market and the ability to sort and mechanically recycle these materials is already proven at industrial scale.


Below is a brief overview of what CEFLEX believe is the optimal guidelines for designing packaging solutions that will work with and contribute to the circular economy model.


Designing For A Circular Economy Infographic

Source: CEFLEX Report “Designing For a Circular Economy 2020”


Foxpak offers a wide range of recyclable packaging in line with CEFLEX’s guidance. Our recyclable range includes PE/PE and PP/PP laminates and mono-material structures available in matt and gloss finishes and with high barrier protection. We continue to encourage the use of recyclable plastics, helping our clients create a more sustainable supply chain in line with our vision of a circular economy.

If your brand is looking to invest in quality packaging, our team will guide you through the entire process, providing recommendations on increased sustainability, helping to improve efficiencies and adding expert and award-winning value to your end product.


OPRL labelling rules extended to include PP flexible packaging

With recent announcements of major industry initiatives seeking to increase the rate of recycling of plastic packaging, OPRL has amended its recycling labelling rules to include PP films. This move will bring polypropylene (PP) flexible packaging in line with PE films from 1st Jan 2022, broadening the range of flexible packaging that consumers can recycle.


On-Pack Recycling Label (OPRL) Logo

Based on retailer and brand plans to deliver on commitments under The UK Plastics Pact, OPRL is confident that collections will be available to more than 75% of the UK population for PP film by January 2022. With 9 out of 10 consumers relying on OPRL to inform them on whether they can recycle items, this development should significantly increase the rate at which soft plastics are being recycled at the front of store. PP material recycled in-store will be collected and processed into new packaging and products.


OPRL are continuing to establish the availability of processing capacity and functioning markets for metallised foil crisp, snack and chocolate wrappers. Although they are covered by some in-store recycling collection networks, OPRL hope these too could be labelled as ‘recyclable’ in the near future.

OPRLs new recycling rules will see PP films with less than 5% PE or EVOH labelled with a Special Films label from next January, as PE films.

OPRL recycling labelsJane Bevis, Chair of OPRL Ltd, said “We know there’s a huge appetite among consumers to recycle more of this lightweight packaging, with tremendous responses to in-store trials by retailers. So it’s exciting that the long-established major supermarkets’ network of front-of-store collections for PE films is being extended and strengthened and will now encompass a broader range of bags and wrapping. That means from January consumers will be able to take many more types of packaging for recycling at their local supermarket.”


Margaret Bates, Executive Director of OPRL Ltd, went on to explain. “Mono-polymer polypropylene without heavy coatings or metallisation is an important first step in extending our advice to consumers. It will bring pasta, biscuit and other everyday packaging in line with bread, veg and fruit, and loo roll bags. We’re very conscious that our labels are trusted by consumers because they constitute a ‘promise’. 95% of people are confident they understand our ‘Recycle’ label. Therefore if they put packaging bearing it in the right bin, then it will be recycled. We respect and value that trust, built up over 12 years of labelling packaging. So we’re committed to verifying the necessary infrastructure is in place to deliver on that promise. And to make sure markets exist to make this an economically viable and sustainable process.”


PP Recyclable Pouch

Source: OPRL’s news release “OPRL Labelling Rules Change to Support Flexibles Recycling”


Foxpak offers a wide range of recyclable packaging in line with OPRL guidance. Our recyclable range includes PE/PE and PP/PP mono-material structures available in matt and gloss finishes and with high barrier protection. We continue to encourage the use of recyclable plastics, helping our clients create a more sustainable supply chain in line with our vision of a circular economy.

If your brand is looking to invest in quality packaging, our team will guide you through the entire process, providing recommendations on increased sustainability, helping to improve efficiencies and adding expert and award-winning value to your end product.



Foxpak Celebrate 20 Years Of Delivering Innovative Packaging Solutions

Blog Post Feature Image Celebrating 20 years of delivering innovative flexible packaging solutions

This year Foxpak celebrate 20 years in business. Established in 2001 as a trading company, we quickly developed a name for ourselves in the flexible packaging industry. 20 years on and our highly skilled and knowledgeable team are practised in the art of recommending and manufacturing bespoke flexible packaging solutions. We provide award-winning packaging to countless household brands in over 30 different countries around the world. There have been many notable milestones and achievements over the last 20 years. With innovation at the heart of our company culture, we pioneered the development of digital flexibles in 2008 by becoming the first company in the world to print flexible packaging using HP digital printing presses. Since then we have been on a journey to creating a greener future through the development of sustainable packaging and business practices.


Foxpaks Innovation Timeline

Blog post Infographic outlining milestones achieved throughout foxpaks 20 years in business



Are you looking for a flexible packaging partner? Our team are experienced in recommending and producing award-winning flexible packaging solutions. Contact us today to discuss your packaging requirements.

Protein Packaging: Making The Switch From Tubs To Pouches

Blog Post Feature Image Protein Packaging Making The Switch From Tubs To Pouches

Sports nutrition is an umbrella term that covers many different products from protein powders to energy bars and health supplements. Traditionally, protein powder and supplements were packed in plastic tubs. Recently, the number of sports nutrition brands switching to flexible packaging solutions has soared. Today, sports nutrition products come in a variety of packaging solutions. Some popular formats are stand up pouches, three side seal bags and flat bottom bags, as well as plastic or paper laminated films. Compared to tubs, pouches are seen as a more modern packaging solution. In addition to being practical and cost-effective, they save space and allow for increased branding. It’s safe to assume these benefits are why flexible packaging solutions are now a preferred choice by most sports nutrition brands. 

This blog summarises some of the questions you may have before making the move from rigid tubs to striking, innovative and sustainable flexible packaging bags and pouches.


How sustainable are pouches versus tubs?


sports nutrition protein pouch


In general terms, flexible packaging is seen as a more sustainable alternative to rigid plastic tubs. Pouches are lighter and use less plastic to hold the same amount of product compared to traditional tubs. Their flexible and lightweight nature makes them easier to store and transport, resulting in a significant reduction in CO2 emissions during the logistics process. Recent developments have seen the introduction of recyclable materials in flexible packaging. Recyclable bags and pouches are quickly becoming the packaging of choice for sports nutrition brands. Our recyclable options include high barrier LDPE and plastic-free paper.


Will flexible packaging offer my product the same levels of protection?



Flexible packaging is an excellent option for products that require high levels of protection from external factors such as oxygen, moisture and UV light. Sports nutrition bags and pouches are made using laminates. These structures can be modified to achieve specific levels of protection for the product being packed. materials such as metalised polyester and aluminium provide an excellent all-around barrier to preserve sensitive products such as powders, chocolate and capsules, while the use of resealable zippers means that bulk powders and supplements remain fresh throughout their use. Food safety and product integrity are extremely important when it comes to packaging. All of our sports nutrition packaging is manufactured using food-grade laminates in our BRCGS certified facility.


Will flexible packaging help my product stand out on the shelf?


sports nutrition supplement packaging


The sports nutrition market is saturated so packaging should be as eye-catching as possible to stand out from the competition. Flexible packaging holds an advantage over traditional rigid tubs by offering a larger surface area for branding and messaging. From pixel perfect digital print to hi-definition flexographic and gravure print, flexible packaging supports the use of detailed graphics, saturated colours and powerful branding. Aside from excellent print quality, digital print technology also supports hyper customisation and personalisation in flexible packaging designs. This ensures that your sports nutrition packaging always stands out on the supermarket shelf.


Are you a sports nutrition brand looking to make a switch from tubs to flexible packaging? Get in touch and our team will guide you through the complete process. Providing guidance along the way and helping to improve efficiency, reduce costs and add value to your sports nutrition product.



Thanks for Reading,

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