April 2022 may seem a while away yet, but it will be here sooner than you think. That’s the date when all types of plastic packaging must contain a minimum of 30% recycled content. The plastic packaging tax is the first real step towards the UK tackling the rising problem of plastic used in everyday packaging and encouraging the reduction of virgin plastic manufacture. But things aren’t always as simple they seem. What may seem a commendable goal may in actual fact in some cases cause more harm than good. So how can that be? It seems fairly obvious that the less virgin plastic made, the better. Read on to find out more about our modern day crisis. And yes – it will affect pallet wrap!
Putting plastic in its place
Following the UK ban of plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds this year, the Government’s long term strategy to stem the tide of plastic in our environment continues to look at all single use plastics. Top of the agenda is packaging. We are all familiar with the rise of plastic packaging in the supermarkets when we buy our fruit and vegetables. One supermarket, Iceland, took the brave step of publishing the details of their plastic consumption with the hope that others follow suit and collectively work to reduce the amount used.
And of course, it’s not just about the amount of plastic made, it’s also how it’s disposed of too. The Circular Economy shows how used plastic can re-enter the system, be collected and re-purposed. You may have heard of the term Post Consumer Waste or PCW. This is recovered plastic which is re-introduced back into the cycle. For example, our plastic sacks are made from 98% PCW plastic and are also recyclable.
Does my company have to pay plastic packaging tax?
So all UK producers and all importers of plastic packaging will have to pay this tax. It applies to all plastic packaging either produced or imported into the UK that does not contain at least 30% recycled plastic. This will see a tax of £200 per tonne of plastic packaging made from less than 30% recycled plastic. And it would seem this could be just the starting point in terms of the 30% identified, so don’t be surprised to see that increase. How companies will go about securing or creating products with this amount of recycled content will be the stuff of many conversations in supply chains across the UK.
Post Consumer Waste
We mentioned PCW at the start of the article which stops single use plastics going to landfill. But what are the mechanisms in place to recover this plastic? Can you be sure that the empty plastic bottles you so diligently put in the recycling bin each week actually end up in the packaging in the supermarket? And it would also depend on where you live too! Some councils have got great systems in place to give your recycling a new lease of life while others, not so much. Imagine how hard it will be for industry to recover and introduce the right plastics into their supply chains for manufacture. The statistics speak for themselves where only 9% of plastic in the US and 15% Europe gets recycled.
It gets a bit technical!
The problem is not all plastic can be recycled. It depends what it was in a “previous life” and how many times it has been recycled too. There are also safety considerations to take into account. The process of recycling plastic can produce VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds) if not processed correctly. There’s also the issue of contamination which can hamper the recycling process.
So perhaps the answer is just to use less!
How to use less pallet wrap
It is estimated that in the UK, over 150,000 tons of pallet wrap is used every year. It’s hard to imagine what that kind of volume looks like. To try to put it into perspective, 150,000 tonnes of used pallet wrap would take up the space of approximately 75,000 double decker buses!!
All pallet wrap can be recycled, but unfortunately could not be used to make new pallet wrap. The particular quality of pallet wrap that provides that all important ‘stretch’ gets broken down in the recycling process. There is no pallet wrap currently on the market that contains 30% recycled content. If it were possible to develop a recycled stretch film, it would need to be extremely thick so more plastic is required in the process, that defeats the object of plastic reduction. So what’s the answer to reducing plastic consumption with pallet wrap and avoiding the plastic packaging tax?
High performance pallet wrap
You might be tempted to put off taking any action to do with your pallet wrap until nearer April 2020, but actually you can start making savings right now. Typically most users would be using a standard film around the 20 micron value. This means having to use a lot of plastic to ensure pallet stability – remember our double decker bus? And a lot of plastic means more tax penalties.
By using a high performance film, you can make savings straight away on the amount of plastic you use, reducing your tax liability as well as cost.
So how does it work?
The benefit of high performance pallet wrap means that you need much less of it. This is because the technology involved in creating it means film thickness can be reduced to as little as 8 micron.
What does this mean for you and the plastic packaging tax?
Your pallet wrap won’t include 30% recycled plastic content so you can’t avoid the tax – but high performance pallet wrap does mean you will use less.
And because you’re using less, you’ll end up paying less tax.
And the even better news?
You don’t have to wait until April 2022 to enjoy these savings, you can start reducing your plastic consumption and save money today!
How does it stack up?
If you’re currently spending 50p per pallet on wrap, this could see you gain savings of over 40% per pallet. And remember our double decker again, now we’re talking only 45,000 buses for an average rather than 75,000. That’s pretty remarkable isn’t it!
It’s definitely worth taking a little bit of time to understand how much pallet wrap you’re using as well as the micron so you can get an idea of the potential savings that you can make right now. Why not drop us a quick email using the form below so we can work out how many double decker buses you can save!
Act now – don’t wait until April 2020!