Hammond Confirms Plastic Tax to ‘Transform Economics of Sustainable Packaging’

The government is to introduce a new tax on plastic packaging as it seeks to ramp up efforts to tackle the scourge of litter and waste from single-use plastics, it was confirmed in the budget.

Food and drink companies will be taxed on plastic packaging that does not include at least 30% recycled content, in a drive to reduce dependence on “virgin plastics” that are difficult or impossible to recycle, such as black food trays and plastic straws. 

But the new tax – subject to consultation – is not due to come into force until April 2022. It will cover plastics produced in the UK as well as those that have been imported.

Also unveiled was a further fund of £20m to tackle plastics and boost recycling; £10m for research and development and £10m to help fund innovative approaches to reducing litter, such as electronic smartbins   Click here to read more


The government has also set out its plan to ban the distribution and sale of plastic straws, drinks stirrers and cotton buds to protect our rivers and seas.

The plan is subject to a consultation launched by Environment Secretary Michael Gove.

In England, it is estimated that annually we use 4.7 billion plastic straws, 316 million plastic stirrers and 1.8 billion plastic-stemmed cotton buds. An estimated 10% of cotton buds are flushed down toilets and can end up in waterways and oceans.

In order to eliminate these items from use, the government intends to introduce a ban on their distribution and sale. The ban would come into force at some point between October 2019 and October 2020, subject to the views collected during consultation. Click here to read more


250 organisations including the UK government and many of the world’s largest packaging producers, retailers, recyclers and NGOs have today signed the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy Global Commitment to eradicate plastic waste and pollution.   Signatories include Danone, H&M, L’Oréal, Mars, PepsiCo, The Coca-Cola Company, Burberry plc, and Unilever.

Targets include:

  • Eliminate problematic or unnecessary plastic packaging and move from single-use to reuse packaging models;
  • Innovate to ensure 100% of plastic packaging can be easily and safely reused, recycled, or composted by 2025;
  • Circulate the plastic produced, by significantly increasing the amounts of plastics reused or recycled and made into new packaging or products.