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The proposed UK plastic tax 'positive' but not without challenges

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In the October 2018 budget, Philip Hammond announced a plastic tax to help tackle plastic waste. The government proposed to introduce a new tax on the manufacture and import of plastic packaging which contains less than 30% recycled plastic in the hope to transform the economics of sustainable packaging.

Zoe Brimelow, Brand Director at Duo UK was asked to give her view on the government's plans by Packaging News "The announcement of a plastic tax is a positive step towards making the polythene packaging industry more sustainable. However, it's not without its challenges for manufacturers.

"Plastic is resource-efficient, flexible, hygienic, durable and lightweight, and other materials don't match those functional properties, but there is growing concern surrounding its impact on the planet. As an industry, before the new tax law was introduced, positive changes had already started to make packaging more sustainable. At Duo, we have our own polythene closed loop recycling facility where we recycle waste polythene scrap created in our manufacturing process and also waste from our customers sites. The recycled content is used to manufacture new products reducing dependency on virgin products used. Together with our clients we have re-engineered products, eradicated excess material and a vast number of our clients have started to segregate waste polythene on-site and return it to us to be recycled and made into new packaging through our closed-loop-recycling programme.

"A challenge we're facing is that much of packaging waste is heavily contaminated which makes it difficult to recycle. For example, paper labels can result in a low-grade recycled pellet which limits what new product it can be used for and the inclusion rate without effecting the performance of the product.

"As a leader within the industry, we're doing all we can to keep valuable material in the economy and out of the environment. We are already geared up for this change - we've invested in the relevant equipment to ensure that we can keep waste material to a minimum and recycle where possible. The stumbling blocks will be contaminated plastic and whether the industry can source enough good quality feedstock to consistently meet 30 per cent inclusion in all new products."

*Featured in Packaging News November 2018

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