Plastic Packaging Tax 2021 (UK)

A new tax will apply to plastic packaging manufactured in, or imported into the UK, that does not contain at least 30% recycled plastic. Plastic packaging is packaging that is predominantly plastic by weight.

It will not apply to any plastic packaging which contains at least 30% recycled plastic, or any packaging which is not predominantly plastic by weight.

Imported plastic packaging will be liable to the tax, whether the packaging is unfilled or filled.

Manufacturers and importers of less than 10 tonnes of plastic packaging per year will be exempt.

The tax will take effect on 1 April 2022.

Legislation will be introduced in Finance Bill 2021 to establish the Plastic Packaging Tax.

The key features of the tax, will include:

• £200 per tonne tax rate for packaging with less than 30% recycled plastic

• a registration threshold of 10 tonnes of plastic packaging manufactured in or imported into the UK per annum

• the scope of the tax by definition of the type of taxable product and recycled content

• the exemption for manufacturers and importers of small quantities of plastic packaging

• who will be liable to pay the tax and need to register with HMRC

• how the tax will be collected, recovered and enforced

• how the tax will be relieved on exports

The relevant extracts of the Finance Bill 2021 when enacted, will be added to EHS Legislation Registers and Checklists.

The policy paper is here.

Plastic Waste Shipment (EU)

On 22nd December 2020 the EU adopted new rules on the export, import and intra-EU shipment of plastic waste – here. [these changes are not yet in the CONSLEG consolidated law version uploaded on Cardinal Environment EHS Legislation Registers & Checklist, and the updated law will be added shortly]

The new rules ban the export of plastic waste from the EU to non-OECD countries, except for clean plastic waste sent for recycling. Exporting plastic waste from the EU to OECD countries and imports in the EU will also be more strictly controlled.

The new rules entered into force on 1 January 2021. They apply to exports, imports and intra-EU shipments of plastic waste: [see below per the EU news announcement]

Exports from the EU

• Exporting hazardous plastic waste and plastic waste that is hard to recycle from the EU to non-OECD countries will be banned.

• Exporting clean, non-hazardous waste (which is destined for recycling) from the EU to non-OECD countries will only be authorised under specific conditions. The importing country must indicate which rules apply to such imports to the European Commission. The export from the EU will then only be allowed under the conditions laid down by the importing country. For countries which do not provide information on their legal regime, the “prior notification and consent procedure” will apply.

• Exporting hazardous plastic waste and plastic waste that is hard to recycle from the EU to OECD countries will be subject to the “prior notification and consent procedure”. Under this procedure, both the importing and exporting country must authorise the shipment.

Imports into the EU

• Importing hazardous plastic waste and plastic waste that is hard to recycle into the EU from third countries will be subject to the “prior notification and consent procedure”. Under this procedure, both the importing and exporting country must authorise the shipment.

Intra-EU shipments

• The “prior notification and consent procedure” will also apply to intra-EU shipments of hazardous plastic waste, and of non-hazardous plastic waste that is difficult to recycle.

• All intra-EU shipments of non-hazardous waste for recovery will be exempt from these new controls. 

These new rules amend the EU’s Waste Shipment Regulation (EU Waste Transhipment Regulation) and implement the decision taken by 187 countries in May 2019 at the Conference of the Parties of the Basel Convention. This Basel decision set up a global regime governing international trade in plastic waste for the first time, by including new entries on plastic waste in the Annexes of the Convention.

The EU ban on exports outside the OECD of plastic waste that is difficult to recycle, goes further than the requirements of the Basel Convention.

[Note: the UK is outside the EU, it did update its International Waste Shipment Regulation to incorporate a prior notification and consent process effective 1st Jan 2021 – see Cardinal Environment Registers and Checklists – but it did not implement a ban on exports of plastic waste to non-OECD. DEFRA – The government had “pledged to ban the export of all plastic waste to non-OECD countries”, but no timetable for action exists. Research is commissioned to better understand existing UK plastic waste recycling capacity and DEFRA would consult in due course on how to deliver its manifesto commitments.]

Company Vehicles & Plastic Cotton Buds (Scotland)

The Scottish Government has introduced the following 2 laws :

(1) The Environmental Protection (Cotton Buds) (Scotland) Regulations 2019 – here.

In force from 12th October 2019, they ban the manufacture and sale of plastic stemmed cotton buds in Scotland.

(2) The Transport (Scotland) Act 2019 – here.

This Act introduces low emission zones and workplace parking licensing (Section 4A). Note the consultation provisions.

These laws will be in the next Scotland Email Alert, and will be introduced onto subscribers’ systems shortly.

Deposit Return System (DRS) for Bottles and Cans (England & Wales)

Exit day is 31st October 2019

HMG announce today they will bring in a DRS for drinks containers (bottles and cans) in England and Wales via the Environment Bill.

Here

The cost of the deposit would be added to the price of the drinks included in the scheme when they are purchased. This deposit would be redeemed when consumers return their empty drinks containers to a designated return point.

HMG intend the proposed scope and model of the deposit return scheme to be consulted on in 2020, with the scheme to start no later than 2023.

Statement on UK Politics

The Environmental Bill is queued after various Brexit bills. HMG has a majority of only one in Parliament. None of the Brexit bills are announced for Parliament time. 2023 is beyond the date when a General Election would be held under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011.

Single-Use Plastics Ban (EU)

In legal text (a Directive) adopted 27th March 2019, the European Parliament decided to address the matter of single-use plastics as follows :

(1) Single-use plastic cutlery, cotton buds, straws and stirrers to be banned by 2021

(2) 90% collection target for plastic bottles by 2029

(3) More stringent application of the “polluter pays” principle

Specifically the following Products will be banned in the EU by 2021 :

* Single-use plastic cutlery (forks, knives, spoons and chopsticks)

* Single-use plastic plates

* Plastic straws

* Cotton bud sticks made of plastic

* Plastic balloon sticks

* Oxo-degradable plastics and food containers and expanded polystyrene cups

Member states will have to achieve a 90% collection target for plastic bottles by 2029, and plastic bottles will have to contain at least 25% of recycled content by 2025 and 30% by 2030.

The Directive will also strengthen the application of the polluter pays principle, in particular for tobacco, by introducing extended responsibility for producers. This new regime will also apply to fishing gear, to ensure that manufacturers, and not fishermen, bear the costs of collecting nets lost at sea.

In addition, the legal text agreed stipulates that labelling on the negative environmental impact of throwing cigarettes with plastic filters in the street should be mandatory, as well as for other products such as plastic cups, wet wipes and sanitary napkins.

The Directive now needs to be approved by the Council of Ministers before it enters EU law later this year. Member States will have two years to transfer the legislation into national law.

The Press Release (European Commission) is here.

I will load the Directive (once in law) into subscribers’ Cardinal Environment EHS Legislation Registers & Checklists.