The war on plastic waste continues

Darren Smith, Head of Marketing at Southgate Packaging, one of Europe’s leading packing suppliers comments: The war on plastic waste has continued to ramp up, with just six months until the introduction of the Government’s Plastic Packaging Tax. Yet, despite the fact the changes are lurking just around the corner, a study by Veolia reported that 83 per cent of businesses asked were not aware of the tax.

Darren Smith, Head of Marketing at Southgate Packaging.

The UK Treasury first announced the tax on plastics in 2018 and is set to take effect from April 2022, applying to plastic packaging produced in or imported into the UK, which does not contain at least 30 per cent recycled plastic. Only packaging which is not predominantly plastic by weight is excluded.

20,000 producers and importers of plastic packaging are estimated to be affected by the new measure, having the highest impact on the waste and recycling sector since landfill tax was introduced. Which is why, as packaging specialists, we’re urging companies who use plastic packaging to take urgent action and prepare for the upcoming changes. The new tax is designed to provide a clear economic incentive for businesses, who are not already, to use recycled material in the production of plastic packaging.

In return, creating greater demand for the material and stimulating increased levels of recycling and collection of plastic waste, diverting it away from landfill or incineration. To minimise the increased cost implications, businesses should start preparing immediately by collating a list of packaging containing plastic material, specifying the amount of recycled content, and reviewing alternatives if needed. The pandemic has also added complications as online retail sales maintain at a high level.

It is predicted that the growth of e-commerce could drive demand for 92 million sq ft of warehouse space across the UK by 2024, according to property consultants Knight Frank, with forecasts for online sales to hit a sustained level of 32 per cent of all UK retail sales. As the e-commerce boom is here to stay, the level of plastic packaging used is only set to increase. The latest figures from 2019 show the industry used nearly 2.1 billion pounds of plastic packaging, making the new tax an issue that must be raised and addressed within the industry.

As the need for sustainable solutions tightens, paired with the increase in demand for e-commerce, 2022 is set to be a challenging, yet promising time for the logistics, packaging, and warehousing industries. There is no doubt this new legislation will have a huge impact on all, yet at Southgate, we welcome the changes as it aligns with our wider strategy to increase our volume of sustainable packaging solutions. And as sustainable packaging experts, we want to inspire businesses on an international scale to embrace a global solution to sustainability and eliminating waste.

New product development in the industry is key to achieving this goal, and as new solutions and alternatives are brought to the table it will be interesting to see how the new tax has had an impact on the products in the market in 2022.

In the past year, we have launched a variety of sustainable packaging products from carton sealing, paper mailers and void fill, and plan to have a suite of sustainable options for every product by 1 April 2022.

As we look to 2022, we are focusing on the benefits this will have not only on generating a more circular economy, but how it will help businesses align with consumer expectations, right from the start of the supply chain to the end user.