ESA calls for Plastic Packaging Tax to be raised


plastic packaging

The Environmental Services Association has criticised the Autumn Statement and called for the Plastic Packaging Tax to be raised to £500 per tonne and a 50% minimum recycled content threshold.

The UK government says it will legislate in the Autumn Finance Bill 2023 to increase the Plastic Packaging Tax rate in line with CPI (Consumer Price Indices) to £217.85 per tonne from 1 April 2024. The Autumn Statement also commits to publishing an evaluation plan by the end of the year to further incentivise the use of recycled plastic in packaging.

Executive Director of the ESA (Environmental Services Association), Jacob Hayler, commented: “As a result of low virgin polymer prices and the wider macroeconomic outlook, the plastics recycling sector is seeing weak demand for recycled material despite governmental ambitions and consumer appetites encouraging greater use of recycled plastic.

“In a double-whammy disappointment for the sector, adding to last week’s announcement that packaging recycling targets (61% for plastic) will remain unchanged in 2024, yesterday’s Autumn Statement missed an opportunity to rectify this situation by escalating the plastic packaging tax rate.”

Yesterday’s Autumn Statement missed an opportunity to rectify this situation by escalating the plastic packaging tax rate.

However, Hayler said the ESA welcomes the news of an evaluation plan, saying it presents an opportunity to adapt the plastic packaging tax to reflect market conditions and support further investment in plastics recycling.

Reacting to the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, Sian Sutherland, Co-Founder of A Plastic Planet & PlasticFree claimed Britain has become a “laughing stock” on environmental issues.

Sutherland said: “The ‘Green Industries Growth Accelerator’ has been unveiled, but the £960m in funding excludes plastic replacement technologies. And the woefully inadequate plastic packaging tax is to rise only by inflation. Yet again big oil’s plan B, plastic, is being shielded by Prime Minister Sunak’s government.

Jeremy Hunt Spring Budget
In the Autumn Statement, Jeremy Hunt said the UK Government will raise the Plastic Packaging Tax and the Aggregates Levy Rate.

“We could be a global leader in the export of renewables. Instead, this government approve new oil fields and are slaves to eye-wateringly expensive fossil fuel imports. We could be eradicating toxic single-use plastics from our nation and yet the Government shies away from action.”

Plastic Packaging Tax receipts collected by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) in the financial year 2022 to 2023 totalled £276 million, £41 million over its target. The tax has significantly exceeded HMRC targets with the UK Government estimating the tax would generate £235 million in its first 12 months.

Hayler also said: “Government’s ambition to achieve a 65% municipal recycling rate by 2035, and the inclusion of Energy-from-Waste within the Emissions Trading Scheme from 2028, will increase the supply of recycled plastic into the market and this must be met with corresponding demand-side measures.

“The current and future context shows that a strong plastics tax escalator, up to £500 per tonne and a minimum recycled content threshold of 50%, is essential.”

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