Plastic packaging is widely used to transport goods through the supply chain safely. However, more than half of the 9.2 billion tonnes of plastic manufactured since the 1950s has ended up as waste, contributing to the growing environmental crisis we face today.

As such, governments worldwide are creating policies to reduce the manufacturing of virgin plastics and reuse or recycle what is already in circulation. In 2020, the UK government proposed a new Plastic Packaging Tax (PPT) to help tackle plastic pollution. The tax will apply to plastic packaging manufactured in, and imported into, the UK, where less than 30% of plastic packaging currently comprises recycled materials.

This new regulation aims to incentivise businesses and manufacturers to increase plastic waste collection and recycling. As the demand for recycled materials grows, the amount that is incinerated or sent to landfills will decrease. So, what impact will this have on manufacturers, their clients and consumers?

Who will be affected by the Plastic Packaging Tax?

The PPT is due to come into effect from 1 April 2022 and will present manufacturers and importers with a levy of £200 per tonne if their plastic packaging does not include 30% recycled content. ‘Plastic packaging’ classes as any multi-material, hand-separable packaging component that is predominantly plastic by weight.

An estimated 20,000 producers and importers are likely to be affected. Any such business that expects to produce or import at least 10 metric tonnes of plastic packaging over a 12-month period will be required to register for the tax with HMRC — even if they already use some recycled materials.

Those affected will face the one-off costs of registration, staff training and developing necessary frameworks to complete and file tax returns. Maintaining the appropriate records for this new tax will also incur ongoing administrative and registration charges, so affected parties must pay close attention to guidance provided by HMRC to ensure they understand and meet obligations — and prevent costs from being passed along the supply chain.

However, the onus does not rest solely on the shoulders of manufacturers and importers. The government is also publishing guidance for business customers on what constitutes ‘reasonable steps’ to ensure the tax has been accounted for and paid. So, regardless of a business’ role in the supply chain, they must prepare for the impact of this new tax — from mitigating costs and communicating with customers to dedicating resources and delegating responsibility for PPT liability.

How can the electronics industry become more sustainable?

Although plastic is a proven, efficient long-term solution for the safe transport of products, it is not biodegradable. More often than not, poorly designed plastic packaging is discarded as waste — with damaging consequences for natural ecosystems. So, to minimise waste and the manufacture of virgin plastics, the electronics manufacturing industry must keep plastics within use cycles by repurposing all plastic materials where possible.

EC Electronics is committed to promoting sustainable manufacturing. For the last 16 years, we have used reusable plastic tote boxes to transport finished products to our customers, reducing not only our impact on the environment but the costs involved in delivering units. We will continue to develop bespoke packaging solutions for our clients and implement reusable packaging wherever possible across our customer base.

And our dedication to minimising the impact of our operations on the environment is not limited to packaging. We are passionate about promoting an environmentally conscious culture across our sites. This is why we encourage employees to join our dedicated Love Earth team, utilise our free WEEE recycling facilities and reduce the carbon footprint of our factories and offices by switching things off when they are not in use.

Our own plastic packaging initiative has been a great success, and we will closely follow government updates about the Plastic Packaging Tax to minimise its impact on our customers. For more information about our products and services, get in touch today.