Plastic tax: everything you need to know

From today (1 April), suppliers, manufacturers and those who import plastic will be subject to a new tax on plastic packaging that does not contain at least 30% recycled plastic.

The government said the tax will not apply to any goods which are not predominantly plastic by weight, but imported plastic packaging will be liable to the tax – whether the packaging is unfilled or filled.

For those who import or manufacture plastic that contains less than 30% recycled plastic, they will have to pay a rate of £200 per metric tonne.

Those who could also be affected include business customers of manufacturers and consumers who buy plastic packaging or goods in plastic packaging in the UK.

The government states on its website: “To mitigate against disproportionate administrative burdens in comparison to the tax liability for those who are likely affected, there will be an exemption for manufacturers and importers of less than 10 tonnes of plastic packaging per year.”

How does this impact convenience retailers?

Steve Prescott, associate editor at Vape Retailer, said that having spoken with several manufacturers, brands and retailers, it is clear the new plastic tax could have “knock on effect” to the wholesale price that retailers pay for some e-liquid products in the vape category.

“Not all brands will be affected – it really is dependent on a couple of factors. Do the e-liquid bottles used by brands contain at least 30% recycled plastic? If so, then the brand will be exempt; and if the brand manufactures of imports more than 10 tonnes of plastic over a 12-month period, and those products contain less than 30% recycled plastic, then plastic tax will be added,” he added.

The majority of mid-premium priced brands, said Prescott, will either be able to absorb the cost or are already using plastic bottles that contain the required amount of recycled materials.

“It is more likely some budget brands that have sourced the cheapest raw materials will be most impacted and could see an increase of 5-15%.

“It is worth noting this increase is also due to general cost increased and not solely the plastic tax. The price of VG has massively increased as has the cost of fuel to power the production machinery, all the way through to sourcing labels, flavourings and then shipping.”

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