Plastic Packaging Tax (high-level consultation)

Closed 12 May 2019

Opened 18 Feb 2019


Single-use plastic waste is a pressing global environmental problem. It often does not decompose and can last centuries in landfill, or else ends up littering the streets or polluting the natural environment. Last year, the government ran a call for evidence on using the tax system or charges to tackle single-use plastic waste. It received a record 162,000 responses, highlighting the strong public interest in action in this area.

Plastic packaging is one of the biggest contributors to plastic waste. Over 2 million tonnes of plastic packaging is used in the UK each year and it makes up two-thirds of all plastic waste. The vast majority of plastic packaging is made from new, rather than recycled plastic.  

To change this, the government announced at Budget 2018 a world leading new tax on plastic packaging that doesn’t include enough recycled material, taking effect from April 2022. The tax will encourage businesses to use more recycled plastic in their production of plastic packaging. It will complement the government’s plans to reform the Packaging Producer Responsibility regulations, discussed in this parallel consultation, which will increase supply of easier-to-recycle plastic.

The plastic packaging tax will apply to businesses that produce or import plastic packaging containing insufficient levels of recycled content. The government is now consulting on the details of how the tax will work, including the level of recycled content, which businesses will be liable and the definition of plastic packaging. The government is open to views on the best design options.

What happens next

The government will now analyse the responses received. Responses to this consultation will be considered alongside the findings of the consultations on Extended Producer Responsibility, a Deposit Return Scheme for drinks containers and consistent waste collection.

The government intends to publish a summary of responses within 12 weeks of closing.

The government will set out its next steps at Budget 2019 once it has considered the responses in detail. HMRC will publish a technical consultation on the tax at a later date and will publish draft legislation for consultation in 2020.


  • Stakeholders


  • Waste and recycling