Re-thinking plastic

January 19, 2023

European plastic taxes that increase recycling

Author: Lena Lundberg, PhD & Public Affairs and Regulatory Director, Trioworld Group

In the European Union there are different ongoing actions to accelerate the transition to a circular and resource-efficient economy. For the plastics industry the presentation of a plastics strategy in 2018 was an important milestone in the journey towards a more circular economy.

Making recycling profitable for businesses

One of the objectives for the strategy is to make recycling profitable for businesses. Since the largest use for plastic is within packaging, the proposed revised regulation on packaging and packaging waste is an important piece of EU legislation. We have high expectations that it will promote high quality recycling and the uptake of recycled content in packaging.

We are also seeing an increase in financial instruments that favours recycled plastic over non-recycled. First out was the European Union that introduced a new own resource* for the EU budget 2021–2027 based on the amount of non-recycled plastic packaging waste produced by each Member State. It entered into force 1 January 2021 with the aim to create powerful incentives for Member States to increase recycling rates in line with the circular economy initiative and the EU plastics strategy. It was calculated to bring €7 billion to the EU budget using a rate of €0.80/kg. It is sometimes refered to as the “EU Plastic Tax” - although it is not an actual tax.

The UK plastic tax increases demand for products with 30% PCR or more

The UK was then the first European country that introduced a plastic tax. From 1 April 2022 all plastic packaging components containing less than 30 percent recycled plastic are charged with the tax of £200 per tonne. There are two types of plastic packaging subject to the tax. Packaging designed to be suitable for use in the supply chain and packaging designed for single use by the consumer. Plastic packaging tax is chargeable when the plastic packaging component is finished if this takes place in the UK, or when finished plastic packaging is imported. Trioworld has seen that the tax has increased the demand for our products that contains 30 percent recycled plastic or more. It shows that the purpose of the tax to encourage the use of recycled tax is being met.

Spain and Italy

The next countries to introduce taxes on non-recycled plastics are Spain and Italy. The tax was introduced as of 1 January 2023 in Spain, but it has been postponed in Italy until 2024. The scope is very broad and in Spain it includes non-reusable plastic packages, semi-finished plastic products and plastic products aimed to facilitate the closing, trading or presentation of the non-reusable containers. It also applies both to primary, secondary and tertiary packaging. And it covers both the transactions of (empty) packaging materials itself and packaged products. Contrarily to the UK´s plastic packaging tax, there is not a threshold of recycled content to determine the taxability of the product in Spain and Italy. There, the tax rate will be 0.45 EUR per kg of the non-recycled plastic in the packaging. Taxpayers need a certificate issued by an accredited entity proving the amount and the recycled nature of the product.

Learn more: Spanish Tax Authority issues FAQs regarding new plastic packaging tax (

Trioworld has chosen the RecyClass certification scheme

Trioworld took the decision last year to go for the RecyClass certification scheme to prove PCR content in our products. This decision was taken after carefully reviewing different certifications. For us it was important to be able to prove to our customers that what we claim is true. It now also turns out to be a necessity for our customers who use our packaging solutions in countries wanting to benefit recycled plastics.

*The EU’s own resources are the main sources of revenue for the EU budget. Link to more information EUR-Lex - community_own_resources - EN - EUR-Lex (

The plastic tax in the UK

It came into effect 1 April 2022. Plastic packaging components containing less than 30 percent recycled plastic are charged with the tax of £200 per tonne.

There are two types of plastic packaging subject to the tax. These are packaging designed to be suitable for:

  1. use in the supply chain
  2. single use by the consumer

There are four categories of packaging exempt from the tax. They are products:

  1. used for the immediate packaging of licensed human medicine
  2. permanently recorded as set aside for non-packaging use
  3. used as transport packaging to import multiple goods safely into the UK
  4. used in aircraft, ship and rail goods stores

What is recycled plastic?

Recycled plastic is plastic that has been reprocessed from recovered material by using a chemical or manufacturing process. This is so it can be used either for its original purpose or for other purposes. This does not include organic recycling. Recovered material is pre-consumer plastic or post-consumer plastic that both:

  • is no longer suitable to be used in the process from which it was generated and would otherwise have been used for energy recovery (for example, by incineration) or disposed of as waste (for example, by being sent to landfill)
  • has been collected and recovered for use as a material input for a recycling or manufacturing process, instead of new primary material

When do you need to register for Plastic Packaging Tax? If you:

  • expect to import into the UK or manufacture in the UK 10 tonnes or more of finished plastic packaging components in the next 30 days
  • have imported into the UK or manufactured in the UK 10 tonnes or more of finished plastic packaging components since 1 April 2022 — this will change on 31 March 2023, when you will need to look back over the last 12 months on the last day of the month

Link to more information Plastic Packaging Tax - GOV.UK (

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