A guide to the Plastic Packaging Tax Secondary Legislation

With the UK Plastic Packaging Tax set to be introduced in April, the government released its second consultation for the legislation.

While changes may be incorporated into the final legislation after that point, the second draft is a good guide to what businesses should expect from the final law. To help companies understand what has changed, ecoveritas has summarised these in a concise guide below.

Plastic Content and Substantial Modification Rules

Part 2 of the draft provides technical details on how plastic and recycled plastic proportions are to be measured, as well as giving commissioners the power to set evidence requirements for proof that plastic is recycled. They may require that evidence is, for example, written, dated, and related to a specific product line.

This section also provides a definition of a ‘substantial modification’, which is important for obligated businesses, as a component is chargeable for the tax when it is finished, and a component is finished when it has undergone its last substantial modification.[1] According to the draft, a component undergoes a substantial modification when it undergoes a chargeable modification made by a relevant manufacturing process. A chargeable modification is a change to the shape; structure; thickness; or weight of a plastic packaging component. A relevant manufacturing process means any process of production except when blowing or forming from a pre-form; cutting; labelling; or sealing. However, if one of these processes is carried out at the same time as a relevant manufacturing process, then it is to be treated as a relevant manufacturing process.

Deferrals and Credits

Part 3 of the draft deals with payment deferrals and credits. In particular, it permits commissioners to specify what evidence will be required to satisfy that a component has been, or will be, exported for the purposes of either deferrals or tax credits. They may require, for example, that evidence includes a document provided for the purposes of any other tax or duty that evidences that the component has been exported or will be exported. This section also specifies which records that must be kept by businesses claiming tax credits.

Registration, Administration and Weighing

Part 4 deals with registration, administration and weighing requirements. It details the information that must be provided when registering as liable for the tax, the details of when and how weighing of component parts must be done and specifies which records must be kept. Suppliers must record the result of the process, the methodology used, and the result in metric units.


Part 5 deals with accounting. The accounting periods for the tax are the three-month periods ending with 31st March, 30th June, 30th September, and 31st December. This section states that returns and payments must be made to commissioners no later than the last working day of the month after the accounting period to which it relates.

For returns, businesses will need to include the weights and information for:

  • chargeable plastic components produced or imported
  • chargeable plastic components that the direct export condition ceases to be met for
  • non-chargeable plastic components produced or imported
  • chargeable plastic components produced or imported for which the direct export condition is met
  • plastic components exempt because they meet the recycled content threshold
  • plastic components exempt as they are used for medicine

Furthermore, any records required to be kept by the law must be kept for at least six years (except records for tax credits and repayments).

Secondary Liability

Part 7 of the draft gives examples of the kinds of due diligence that must be undertaken to avoid secondary liability for unpaid tax further up the supply chain. This includes things like requiring evidence from suppliers, keeping this evidence, and assessing the reliability of this evidence.

Businesses can share their feedback with the UK government via the open consultation. For more advice on the Plastic Packaging Tax or information on how ecoveritas can help you understand your obligations, speak to the team today.

[1] However, if it undergoes its last substantial modification when being packed or filled, the component is instead chargeable when it undergoes its last substantial modification before being packed or filled.

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