Plastic Packaging Legislation and Future

General News



Plastic Packaging Legislation and Future

At the moment the only plastic packaging legislation that is relevant to polyethylene products is the 5p charge for carrier/plastic bags. This was introduced in the UK on 5 October 2015. The law states:

A minimum charge of 5p a bag (including VAT) for carrier bags that are all of the following:

  • Unused – it’s new and hasn’t already been used for sold goods to be taken away or delivered
  • Plastic and 70 microns thick or less
  • It has handles, an opening and is not sealed

The following are exempt: [Packaging, transport and promotions]

  • For goods in transport, such as at an airport or on a train, plane or ship
  • Considered as sealed packaging for mail order and click-and-collect orders
  • Used to give away free promotional material

This charge applies only to shops or chains with 250 or more full-time employees.

The 5p charge for plastic bags in large shops in England could be extended to cover nearly all retailers, as part of government plans for the environment.


Environment Secretary Michael Gove told a meeting of the cabinet that he wanted to tackle our “throwaway culture”. Shops with fewer than 250 employees are currently exempt from the charge, which since being introduced in England in October 2015 has cut plastic bag use. This 5p charge has proven very successful [as detailed DEFRA/WRAP].

Plastic Packaging Legislation

There is a lot of discussion at the moment but nothing firm. The current emphasis being put on “all avoidable plastic waste” and “single use plastics”

Theresa May pledged to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste within 25 years as part of the government’s environmental strategy. The Chancellor, Philip Hammond, confirmed the plans during his spring statement. He also announced a £20m innovation fund for businesses and universities to develop new technologies to tackle plastic waste.

Hammond said:

“We must take bold action to become a world leader in tackling the scourge of single-use plastic littering our streets, countryside and coastline.”

Future Plastic Packaging Legislation?

Whilst any predictions regarding future legislation are difficult to quantify, the continuing pressure upon the Government, coupled with the political posturing currently being displayed, leads us to believe that legislation will be enacted using taxation as the tool to control the use of plastic as a material for packaging.

We at ATL Dunbar are leading the way to introduce alternative products and processes to help our clients meet the challenges of this changing industry. We have a wide range of packaging products including pallet wrapmailing bags and cardboard packaging on our website and we also specialise in offering bespoke packaging solutions and advice to meet our client’s individual requirements. Please do not hesitate to get in touch, our packaging experts are always happy to help.

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