New Scottish tax measures for plastic packaging come into force

9 Jun 2022

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From 1 June there has been a ban placed on what has been referred to by the Scottish government as “problematic single use plastics” in Scotland.

This follows the implementation from April this year of a new UK wide plastic packaging tax in a clear initiative to encourage businesses to manufacture or use recycled plastics, or even alternative materials.

Sean McGinness, partner, Head of VAT and a member of the firm’s Land and Rural Practice Group, says:

“The new Scottish measure will affect some of those with catering businesses and significantly those catering at outdoor events. The ban covers predominantly plastic cutlery and plates, cups, stirrers, beverage and food containers in expanded polystyrene, and covers and lids. Single use plastic straws have been excluded from an outright ban and are subject to some exemptions.

“The plastic packaging tax is aimed at more high-volume importers and manufacturers of finished plastic packaging and is levied at a rate of £200/tonne where the material contains less than 30% of recycled plastic. The rules around what is within the scope of this new tax are complex.

“There are a number of exemptions to the tax including: businesses importing less than 10 tonnes of finished plastic packaging in a 12-month period; certain packaging used to import goods into the UK for long term storage such as pallet wrap; and plastic packaging manufactured in the UK, or imported to the UK, but which is then exported directly.”

Sean adds:

“As this is a new tax, its application may be confusing, and we anticipate some time for it to bed down. However, the Scottish ban is black and white and will be subject to enforcement by local authorities. Those who have on-farm catering businesses, cafés, those who offer a takeaway food service or who cater at the many events that will be taking place this summer should take note and be careful not to fall foul of the new regulations.”

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