What Plastics Tax means for pallet wrap

What Plastics Tax means for pallet wrap

It’s been a long time coming, but in just nine months’ time the new Plastics Tax will come into force, affecting any business that uses plastic packaging.

The Plastics Tax was first announced in 2018 and will take effect in April 2022. It will apply to plastic with less than 30% recycled content. Government plans to tax UK businesses £200 per tonne of plastic that does not contain the minimum recycled material.

It provides a clear economic incentive for businesses to use recycled material in the production of plastic packaging, which will create greater demand for this material and in turn stimulate increased levels of recycling and collection of plastic waste, diverting it away from landfill or incineration. Well, that’s the theory.


Who pays?

The measure is expected to affect around 20,000 producers and importers of plastic packaging.

The tax is already proving to be a catalyst for real change, which is why many businesses are looking to move beyond the required 30% recycled content.

The tax applies to pallet wrap, as much as it does to PET bottles. So, if you use pallet and shrink wrap film, now is a good time to start making the necessary changes to help you adapt and hopefully avoid unnecessary costs.


Switching to film with recycled content

Well, the obvious thing to do is to swap your current film for one with 30% recycled content. Sadly, it’s not that simple. Whilst films have been developed with the necessary amount of recycled plastic, they’re expensive and it is more challenging to achieve high performance with these films. This means your costs increase and your film use goes up, which isn’t good for the environment.

So, it’s not simply a case of swapping from virgin film to film with recycled content.

At Lindum we have some of the highest performing recycled content films on the market. Plus, we have the expertise to ensure these films perform. So, if you are looking for recycled film options, we are well placed to advise you.

One other factor to bear in mind is that as the tax deadline approaches there’s likely to be high demand for these films as companies that haven’t prepared, try to find a quick fix. This will drive the cost up further.


So, what’s the answer if you don’t go recycled?

If you use or import plastic, you can’t avoid paying the new Plastics Tax, but you can reduce your liability.

We estimate UK businesses use 150,000 tonnes of stretch wrap a year. We believe this could be reduced by 45,000 tonnes per year, reducing Plastics Tax liability by almost a third.

So, how do you go about doing that? You look at ways you can reduce your use of film.

The first thing is to establish how much film you are using and if you’re using it correctly.

We regularly see three common mistakes which, if addressed, are opportunities for companies to quickly improve their performance and reduce their tax liability.


Choosing stretch wrap in isolation

One of the main errors is choosing stretch wrap in isolation, without considering the machinery it will be used with, or the products it will wrap. Since all products behave differently in transit, (for example, bottles of lemonade have more stability issues than packets of crisps), there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution. When buying wrap you need to ensure you’re buying the right film specification for the job and that it will work effectively with your wrapping machinery.


Too much wrap

A second common issue is using far more wrap than is needed to ensure stability, resulting in huge volumes of unnecessary plastic waste. This stems from the fear that wrapping film will snap during transit, so it’s best to add another layer.

The opposite is in fact the case. Too often stretch wrap is not stretched far enough to ensure it reaches its optimum performance. This leaves stretch in the film meaning there is room for movement during transit, creating instability and leading to product damage. By using the right wrap at the right tension, a smaller amount of wrap will generate greater stability, reducing usage and cost.


Poor calibration

A third mistake is not correctly calibrating the pallet wrapping machine with the wrap being used. Regularly reviewing the settings and ensuring they are correct is often a quick fix for reducing usage and waste.


High performance films

These problems can often be solved simply by switching to a more appropriate and higher-quality wrapping material. Many businesses are using 23-micron film where, for example, a 10-micron Carestretch NANO film would be far more effective. High performance multi-layer nano materials can stretch up to 50% further without compromising strength or puncture resistance, and making the switch is usually a matter of making a simple adjustment to existing machinery.

That’s an immediate 50% reduction in the amount of plastic film you use, which means big cuts in the amount of Plastics Tax you’ll pay.


Immediate savings

You don’t have to wait until April 2022 to make the change, you can start right away, reducing your environmental impact and saving money.

If you’re currently pay 50p per pallet on wrap, this could see you gain savings of more than 40% per pallet, by addressing the mistakes we commonly see.

So, now is the time to get to grips with your pallet wrap and stretch film usage, and start benefitting from improved performance and reduced costs.

If you’d like to know more about how the experts at Lindum Packaging can help, drop us an email or even better give us a call. We’ll be delighted to answer your questions.