Preparing for UK Plastics Tax

May 2021

As the UK government sets its sights on increasing the use of recycled materials in plastic packaging production, will the industry pay the price? Or will the plastics sector shift towards more environmentally friendly versions?

What is the plastics tax?

The ‘Plastic packaging tax’ is expected to take effect from April 2022 as a means to reduce the amount of plastic waste that ends up in landfill. The new tax applies a £200 per tonne levy to producers of plastic packaging, or importers of plastic packaging, that does not contain at least 30% of recycled plastic. The tax applies to both filled and unfilled packaging imported.

The government hopes to encourage the use of recycled materials in the production of plastic packaging, which will also drive higher levels of recycling and collection of plastic waste. Additionally, this has a knock of effect to other recycling sectors, such as tyre recycling.

Recycling tyres to support plastics

End of life tyres are often pyrolysed so the oil content of tyres can be extracted and sold, but the resulting tyre char typically ends up in cement kilns or landfill. Recovered Carbon Black (rCB) is produced using a complex array of chemistry processes, taking this waste tyre char and creating a recycled product that can be used in replacement of virgin carbon black.

For the plastics sector, rCB can offer a realistic and economic benefit when faced with the plastics packaging tax. As a recycled material used in plastics production, rCB can count towards the 30% required to avoid the upcoming UK tax.

Currently, the use of rCB has been low, due to market concerns over the reliability of supply volumes and consistency of rCB grades, but Waverly Carbon is tackling both. Reinventing the rCB supply chain, Waverly purchases tyre recyclers’ raw tyre char, giving them an outlet for their waste, and Waverly the feedstock required to meet the demand from plastics and rubber manufacturers.

This pool of tyre char sources enables Waverly to select the highest quality raw materials, which is assessed using rigorous testing by its team of chemists and laboratory technicians. With this focus on a strict regime of key tests, Waverly is able to produce a high-quality, consistent and sustainable rCB product.

The UK government is forcing the plastics sector to scrutinise the materials it uses in the production of packaging. Traditional virgin carbon black has a fossil fuel base, uses high energy and significant CO2 emissions in production.

At the same time, the options for environmentally friendly materials used in plastics is increasing. rCB provides a cleaner, sustainable and high-quality alternative to virgin carbon black, that supports the plastics sector move to a more greener product.

Find out more about rCB.