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Will The UK’s Plastic Packaging Tax Encourage Businesses to Use Eco-Friendly Packaging?

The UK introduced a Plastic Packaging Tax on the 1st April 2022. This means businesses will now be charged for the plastic they use, and the charge will be £200 per tonne of plastic that contains less than 30% of recycled plastic. 

The plastic packaging tax is being introduced to encourage businesses to switch to more sustainable packaging. But the big question is: will this actually lead to businesses using more eco-friendly packaging? 

It should do. According to packaging supplier Springpack, 61% of consumers say they’re likely to switch to a brand that is more environmentally friendly than their current brand. So it’s not just a case of businesses avoiding the plastic packaging tax charge, it’s also a case of businesses profiting from using eco-friendly packaging. 

But will consumers pay more for products in eco-friendly packaging? 

It’s all well and good moving from plastic packaging to eco-friendly packaging, but while the cost of living is increasing, will consumers really pay more for products just because the packaging is eco-friendly? 

The answer is not so straightforward. What we say and what we do are sometimes very different things. So, when consumers indicate that they’d be willing to switch to a competitor brand simply because they’re using eco-friendly packaging, that might not be true if the cost increases. In the GlobalWebIndex’s sustainable packaging report, they found that “even though sustainable materials are important, the cost is the biggest challenger by far.” Therefore, price will still be the biggest driver when it comes to consumer choices. 

Innovative Packaging Will Help

The more businesses are required to reduce their carbon footprints in an effort to achieve net-zero, the more we will see innovative packaging that is both eco-friendly and affordable available on the market. And the more this happens, the less plastic packaging we’ll see on our favourite products. 

And it’s not just the pure cost of the product that businesses will be thinking about. Bubble wrap has been used for decades to help protect products through transit. But large rolls of bubble wrap can take up a huge amount of space in a warehouse. Innovative products such as eco pillow films take up much less room, freeing up space for storing more important products. 

There’s Still a Long Way to Go

Ultimately, we still see far too much plastic on supermarket shelves and throughout the entire supply chain. It will take time to reduce the amount of plastic in our packaging. But the plastic packaging tax is another motivator for businesses to accelerate their reduction of single use plastic. If you’re a business owner and you haven’t considered how the plastic packaging tax could impact you, you should be looking into it right now. 

For consumers, some will say we’re not moving fast enough, but packaging costs must also be reasonable. Today, we’re seeing rising inflation, with a squeeze on the cost of living, and this will always impact our choices on which products we buy. 

Photo by Adam Winger on Unsplash

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