Over the past few years, the government has slowly introduced a number of rules and regulations to help reduce the amount of single-use plastic in the food and drink industry. And in a couple of months, restrictions are about to get even tighter.

On the 1st April 2022, HMRC is introducing the Plastic Packaging Tax. The new tax will apply to any UK business that imports or manufactures 10 tonnes of plastic packaging per year that doesn’t contain at least 30% recycled plastic. Tax will be applied at a rate of £200 per metric tonne of plastic packaging per year.

How will the Plastic Tax affect hospitality?

Many restaurants, hotels, bars, and cafes may not be impacted financially by the Plastic Tax, but everyone will feel the pressure of the administrative burden.

Businesses that manufacture or import more than 10+ tonnes of plastic packaging over a 12 month period will need to register for the tax, even if they are not liable to pay it.

For example, if a sauce manufacturer buys in plastic jars to fill and pack sauces, they won’t be liable to pay the tax as they don’t produce the jars themselves. The company they buy the packaging from will be.

The knock-on effect of this will be that suppliers are likely to increase costs, which could have a significant impact on the price end users pay for the goods.

The struggle of recycled plastic in hospitality

Our customer research shows us that many of our food suppliers do not use plastic with a minimum of 30% recycled content. The main reason for this is that there are still strict regulations that prevent the use of recycled plastic in packaging materials that are in direct contact with food.

Of course, there are alternatives available, like virgin plastic – a type of plastic resin, made using natural gas or crude oil, without any recycled materials. However, this is still a relatively new concept and the price of using this could actually be 15-20% more expensive than paying the Plastic Tax.

What can businesses do to reduce the amount of plastic they use?

There are a number of things businesses can do, however as we explored above, switching to plastic alternatives can be costly. But there are a few things you can do. Even if it doesn’t directly reduce the tax paid, it will reduce your carbon footprint…

  • Reduce the thickness of plastic bags
  • Use paper in place of plastic (paper tape, bags, envelopes etc.)
  • Get rid of all single-use-plastic – like takeaway knives and forks, coffee holders, cocktail sticks, and straws
  • Find an alternative to key cards – like material bracelets/phone apps
  • Go refillable as much as you can
  • Encourage customers to recycle with you
  • Offer filtered water in glass bottles

Fairway Foodservice, will be closely monitoring the impact of the Plastic Tax on the industry and their customers. They are working with suppliers to reduce the inevitable price increase that will follow the implementation of the new tax, however, they are expecting an inflation of around 0.5-1%. To find out more about how the Plastic Tax may affect you or how to register, head to the government website.

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