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The UK’s Plastic Packaging Tax (“PPT“) is due to take effect from 1 April 2022 and will be payable by manufacturers and importers of plastic packaging containing less than 30% recycled plastic content at a rate of £200 per metric tonne where certain thresholds are met. See our previous client alert on this topic here.

According to the HM Revenue & Customs policy paper, the objective of the PPT is to “provide a clear economic incentive for businesses to use recycled plastic material in plastic packaging”. This will help to create demand for recycled material and in turn stimulate increased levels of recycling and collection of plastic waste, reducing the amount that ends up in landfill or being incinerated.

The primary legislation is set out in the Finance Act 2021 which was enacted in June 2021. The administrative aspects of the PPT will be dealt with in secondary legislation and a consultation on the Plastic Packaging Tax (General) Regulations ran from 4 November 2021 until 1 December 2021.  We expect the final version of this legislation to be published soon.

Guidance on how to register for the PPT can be found here but registration cannot be completed until 1 April. It should also be noted that all guidance in respect of the PPT is subject to change while the secondary legislation is finalised.  

A crucial aspect of the PPT regime is that downstream businesses that buy plastic packaging on which the tax should have already been paid may be found jointly and severally liable for any unpaid tax.  In connection with this, on 30 December 2021, HMRC published guidance on the due diligence checks businesses should undertake in connection with the PPT. The guidance does not set out a specific list of checks that should be carried out in every case.  Rather, it is the responsibility of each business to decide which checks are “relevant, reasonable and proportionate” depending on the businesses’ “personal circumstances and supply chain”.

Ahead of April, it is important that businesses assess whether they will be required to pay the PPT in respect of any plastic packaging that does not meet the 30% threshold and, even where a business is not required to pay the PPT directly, it will still need to consider what steps should be taken to ensure that it is not involved in a supply chain where the PPT goes unpaid by someone else.


Jennifer Revis is a partner in Baker McKenzie's London office and co-leads our EMEA Customs Team.
Jennifer focuses her practice on the public regulation of international trade, particularly in a wide range of customs compliance issues. She regularly advises clients on import matters, including customs valuation, rules of origin, and classification. She has worked with clients designing and implementing their compliance programs, policies, procedures and risk assessments, and assisting them in customs audits. She has significant experience in managing global customs projects and disputes, particularly in the area of customs valuation (transfer pricing; assists; royalties). Jennifer also advises on FTAs and trade remedies matters.
Jennifer has been consistently recognised as a "Leading Individual" for Customs & Excise and “Next Generation Partner” for Trade, WTO Anti-Dumping And Customs. Clients describe her as "an outstanding customs lawyer and litigator with fantastic experience. She is also easy to work with and leads her team with aplomb", "without a doubt, one of the best customs lawyers in the business (…) with an exceptionally deep knowledge of customs valuation concepts, as well as considerable experience applying those concepts in a variety of jurisdictions."
Jennifer has been on secondment to the UK customs authorities (Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs) in their tax and excise litigation department and to the Firm's European Law Centre in Brussels.


Graham Stuart is a partner at Baker McKenzie's London office specialising in product regulation and environmental, health and safety law.


Rachel MacLeod is a senior associate in Baker McKenzie's London office. She advises companies on the "cradle-to-grave" regulation of a broad range of products sold on the EU and UK markets. She also advise companies on how to comply with their operational environmental and health & safety obligations.


Adeel Haque is an associate in Baker McKenzie's London office. He is a member of the International Commercial & Trade and Antitrust & Competition practice groups. Adeel qualified in September 2019 and has spent time working in the Firm's Hong Kong office.

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