ESA calls for Plastic Packaging Tax to be raised

The Environmental Services Association (ESA) has criticised the Autumn Statement of the UK Government’s budget and urged for a raise in the Plastic Packaging Tax to £500 per tonne. They also recommended setting a 50% minimum recycled content threshold for packaging.

In response, the UK Government has announced that it will increase the Plastic Packaging Tax rate in line with CPI (Consumer Price Indices) to £217.85 per tonne, starting from 1st April 2024. Additionally, the Autumn Statement has promised to release an evaluation plan by the end of the year to encourage the use of recycled plastic in packaging.

Responding to the announcement, Executive Director of the ESA, Jacob Hayler, said: “Due to 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, Wednesday’s Autumn Statement missed an opportunity to rectify this situation by escalating the plastic packaging tax rate, instead opting only to raise it in line with CPI from April 2024 to £217.85 per tonne.

“The 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, which 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. 

“However, we welcome the news of an evaluation plan, which will present an opportunity to adapt the plastic packaging tax to reflect market conditions and support further investment in plastics recycling.” 

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