What is Plastic Packaging Tax? Who does it apply to? Are your products within the scope of the Plastic Packaging Tax? When do you need to pay the Plastic Packaging Tax? When do I register for the Plastic Packaging Tax?

Subscribers: please see Plastic Packaging Tax

This is a freeview 'At a glance' guide to Plastic Packaging Tax.

At a glance

  • Plastic Packaging Tax applies to finished plastic packaging components manufactured in or imported into the UK containing less than 30% recycled plastic.
  • A UK business will be liable for Plastic Packaging Tax if it performs the 'last substantial modification' before the packing or filling process.
  • The tax is charged at £217.85 per tonne from 1 April 2024 (£210.82 per tonne from 1 April 2023 and £200 per tonne from 1 April 2022)
  • 'Small operators’ (manufacturing/importing <10 tonnes in a 12-month period) are exempted from the charge.

What is a plastic packaging component?

Packaging components allow goods to be:

  • Contained.
  • Protected.
  • Handled.
  • Presented.
  • Delivered.

Exemptions include:

  • Packaging used in the long-term storage of goods.
  • Components that are an integral part of the goods.
  • Packaging reused for the presentation of the goods.
  • Transport packaging for goods imported into the UK.
  • Packaging used in aircraft, ship and rail stores for international journeys.

Additionally, packaging that is not chargeable but still counts towards the 10-tonne limit includes packaging:

  • For use in the immediate packaging of a licensed human medicine.
  • Recorded as permanently set aside for non-packaging use.

For a list of plastic components that are specifically exempt or subject to the tax see: Plastic Packaging Tax

Who pays the tax?

  • Where the packaging or component is produced in the UK it is the producer (manufacturer) of the last modification who pays the tax.
  • Where it is imported to the UK it is the person on whose behalf the packaging or component is imported who pays.


Businesses are required to register with HMRC. The taxpayer will have a 30-day notification period to notify HMRC of the need to register. The notification period starts when:

  • There are reasonable grounds to believe that in the next 30 days, the threshold of 10 tonnes will be surpassed.
  • The threshold of 10 tonnes was surpassed in the previous 12 months.

Registration can be cancelled if the business is no longer liable for the tax. The cancellation has an immediate effect or can be a later agreed date. 

The Plastic Packaging Return

Once registered, a business will need to submit quarterly returns. The return and payment of tax are due by the last working day of the following month. The quarters end on:

  • 30 June
  • 30 September
  • 31 December
  • 31 March

Payment of the tax can be deferred or a tax credit claimed where:

  • The packaging is exported or intended for export within 12 months (unless as transport packaging for exported goods).
  • The packaging is converted into a different packaging component.

Returns can be amended within four years of the original return's due date. The amendments can be made online through the Plastic Packaging Tax Account.


Penalties may be applicable in the event of late filing or payment:

  • A fixed penalty of £500 for failing to comply with a relevant requirement or obligation under the legislation.
  • Continued failure to comply will result in a daily penalty of £40 per day.

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