HMRC lists items in scope of Plastic Packaging Tax

HMRC has published a list of examples of the types of packaging in and out of scope of the Plastic Packaging Tax.

Plastics tax
The government hopes the tax will stem demand for recycled material

To take effect from 1 April, the tax will apply to plastic packaging manufactured in or imported into the UK where the plastic used in its manufacture is less than 30% recycled. It will be set at £200 per metric tonne of plastic packaging.

HMRC’s list gives examples of packaging designed for use at any stage in the supply chain from the manufacturer to the user or consumer which are subject to the tax.

This includes bottles designed for single use, film designed to protect produce, such as film around raw meat, and silage film, among other things.

Examples of items that do not meet this definition and are not subject to the tax include food storage boxes designed to be reused such as lunch boxes, plastic cutlery and lightbulbs.

HMRC also lists examples of plastic packaging designed as single use consumer packaging which are subject to the tax. This includes plastic bags, disposable cups, and single-use medical sharps bins.

Examples of items not covered by this category of products that are not subject to the tax include disposable nappies, urine bags, and cutlery.

‘Really positive’

Martin Hyde, policy leader at consultancy Comply Direct, welcomed the publication of HMRC’s list.

Martin Hyde is policy leader at environmental consultancy Comply Direct

He told letsrecycle.com: “It’s really positive to see HMRC provide examples of the material that fits within the tax.

“We just hope that this list is added to as we move closer to the introduction of the tax in April.”

Mr Hyde noted some differences between the definition of packaging under the tax and elsewhere.

For example, HMRC defines silage film as packaging, while the PRN regulations do not, Mr Hyde said.

Out of scope

Under its list, HMRC also gives examples of packaging not in scope of the Plastic Packaging Tax.

Printer cartridges are not in scope of the tax (picture: Shutterstock)

Plastic packaging where the packaging function is secondary to the storage function is not subject to the tax.

Examples of items covered by this category of products include toolboxes, CD, DVD, and video game cases, and board game boxes.

Plastic packaging where the packaging is an integral part of the goods is not subject to the tax either. This category includes printer and toner cartridges, inhalers, and teabags.

And, plastic packaging where the packaging is designed primarily to be reused for the presentation of goods, such as shop fittings or sales display shelves, is not subject to the tax.

Transport packaging used to import goods into the UK is exempt from Plastic Packaging Tax if it is used to transport multiple sales units or grouped packaging and prevent damage during transportation.


For the purposes of the tax, plastic means a polymer material to which additives or substances may have been added.

If a plastic packaging component is made from multiple materials but contains more plastic by weight than any other substance, it will be classed as a plastic packaging component for the purposes of the tax.

The two types of plastic packaging subject to the tax are designed to be suitable for use in the supply chain or a single use by the consumer.

Plastic packaging containing 30% or more recycled plastic is not chargeable for the tax. However, it still counts towards the 10-tonne threshold for packaging manufactured or imported in a 12-month period, and so manufacturers or importers must keep records of it.

Related link
Packaging in and out of scope of Plastic Packaging Tax

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