Scottish tax measures for plastic packaging come into force

The new plastic packaging tax in Scotland is levied at a rate of £200/tonne when the material contains less than 30% recycled plastic

A ban has been in place since 1 June in Scotland on what has been referred to by the Scottish government as “problematic single use plastics”, following the implementation from April this year of a new UK-wide plastic packaging tax.

The move is said to be a “clear initiative to encourage businesses to manufacture or use recycled plastics, or even alternative materials”.

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The plastic packaging tax is aimed at “high-volume importers and manufacturers of finished plastic packaging”, which is levied at a rate of £200/tonne when the material contains less than 30% recycled plastic. 

The ban reportedly covers mostly plastic cutlery and plates, cups, stirrers, beverage and food containers in expanded polystyrene, and covers and lids. 

However, there are reportedly some exemptions to the tax, which include “businesses that import less than 10 tonnes of plastic packaging in a 12-month period, packaging meant for long-term storage, and packaging manufactured in the UK, or imported to the UK, but which is exported directly”. 

Sean McGinness, partner and head of VAT at Saffery Champness, said: “The new Scottish measure will affect some of those with catering businesses and significantly those catering at outdoor events.

“The rules around what is within the scope of this new tax are complex. 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.”

He added: “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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