Many businesses have been making the transition to sustainable, eco-friendly printed cardboard boxes and cartons, however, a further incentive may be coming soon in the form of a tax on plastic packaging.
The new plastic packaging tax will be applied on any plastic packaging that does not consist of at least 30 per cent recycled plastic, in an effort to curb the reliance on single-use plastics for products.
The intention is to move manufacturers away from single-use plastics and towards either recycled plastic material or more sustainable materials such as wood, bamboo and cardboard.
The proposals are still in the draft stage but according to the government’s website will include a £200 per tonne tax rate for packaging that breaks the regulations. Whether that will be enough of a disincentive remains to be seen.
There will also be an exception for importers and producers of small quantities of plastic packaging, and the 30 per cent target is by weight, rather than size, so it could potentially affect lightweight cardboard packaging that uses a heavy plastic window.
Plastic, particularly virgin single-use plastic, has a major carbon footprint. It is distilled from fossil fuels, such as crude oil, coal and natural gas before being formed into long polymer chains. The process uses a lot of energy, which often compounds the already substantial carbon cost.
Plastic recycling is helpful and has a lower carbon cost than virgin plastics. However, a lot of plastic cannot be melted down and reused the same way steel can be, or melted down and pulped like cardboard.