A New Horizon for Sustainable Packaging

In the current environmental and economic landscape, the issue of plastic waste has taken centre stage. Governments, businesses, and consumers alike are grappling with the challenge of reducing plastic waste and promoting sustainable practices. One such initiative is the Plastic Packaging Tax (PPT), introduced by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). Recently, HMRC has proposed a significant change to this tax – the use of a mass balance approach to account for chemically recycled content in plastic packaging.

The mass balance approach is a method of accounting where the input and output of a process are balanced, and the properties of the input are allocated to the output products. In the context of PPT, this approach would allow businesses to account for the chemically recycled content in their plastic packaging, potentially reducing their tax liability.

The HMRC consultation document outlines the potential implications of this approach. The primary aim is to incentivize the use of chemically recycled plastics, thereby reducing the environmental impact of plastic waste. This could stimulate growth and investment in the emerging sector of chemical recycling, leading to economic development and job creation. However, the proposal is not without its challenges. Implementing a mass balance approach could introduce additional administrative burdens for businesses, requiring them to become certified and provide evidence of the recycled content in their products.

The mass balance approach presents both opportunities and challenges. On the positive side, it could drive the demand for chemically recycled plastic, promote investment in the recycling sector, and enable businesses to reduce their PPT liability. However, it could also introduce additional administrative burdens, create verification challenges, and potentially open the door to misleading environmental claims.

In analyzing these points, it becomes clear that the success of the mass balance approach will largely depend on its implementation. The potential benefits are significant, but they must be balanced against the potential drawbacks. Clear guidelines, robust verification processes, and effective enforcement will be crucial to ensure the integrity of the system and prevent misuse.

Looking ahead, the mass balance approach could represent a significant step forward in the quest for sustainable packaging. However, it is just one piece of the puzzle. Achieving a circular economy for plastics will require a multi-faceted approach, involving not only innovative taxation measures but also advancements in recycling technology, changes in consumer behavior, and global cooperation.

As we reflect on the potential of the mass balance approach, it is clear that this is a complex and evolving issue. The HMRC consultation is an important part of the process, providing an opportunity for stakeholders to contribute their views and help shape the future of the PPT. As the consultation progresses, it will be fascinating to see how this proposal develops and what impact it could have on the future of plastic packaging.

Launching with its most popular product, Andrex® Classic Clean, the new packaging will be designed using 30% recycled plastic packaging made from post-consumer resin. Ensuring the packaging continues to be fully recyclable, PCR is a sustainable packaging alternative made from plastic materials used by consumers.

The plastic is then taken to a facility where it is washed, reground and pelletized into a new usable material.  The new Andrex® Classic Clean packs will begin to appear on all major retailers’ shelves from June 2020, a change which will remove 481 tonnes of virgin plastic over the next 12 months from this variant alone. That’s the equivalent of over 48 million 500ml PET virgin plastic bottles.

The announcement marks yet another step towards a wider ambition to reduce the brand’s usage of virgin plastic. By 2023, Andrex® is targeting to have at least 50% recycled plastic across all its packaging.

Ori Ben Shai, Vice President & Managing Director of Kimberly-Clark UK, said: “At Andrex, we are committed to improving the sustainability of our products and packaging. The launch of the new 30% recycled plastic packaging forms part of our wider ambition to leave a greener ‘pawprint’ on the planet. Beyond this, we aim to have at least 50% recycled plastic content in our packaging by 2023, and we will continue to look for more sustainable alternatives that reduce our environmental footprint, without compromising on the quality of our products that our customers know and love.”

The announcement is just the latest step in the brand’s wider plan to further enhance its sustainability of its products, packaging and processes as part of the Andrex® Greener Paw Print initiative.

All Andrex® Toilet Tissue dry packaging is 100% recyclable and the brand recently removed plastic handles from wrapped Andrex® packs of toilet tissue saving 31 tonnes of plastic per year.  In addition to this, Andrex® Washlets were the first major UK brand to receive Water UK’s ‘Fine to Flush’ certification, which scientifically tests whether flushable wipes can be flushed down toilets and pass safely through sewer systems. The certification, announced earlier this year, sits across the full Andrex® Washlets range.

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