The continued debate of paper vs plastic has dominated the industry for the majority of the past few years. With the global climate change conference COP26 and the Plastic Packaging Tax having taken affect from April 2022, the debate is predicted to gain even more momentum

Despite the changes in tax and an estimated 20,000 producers and importers of plastic packaging to be impacted by the new measure, we were surprised to hear that 83% of businesses asked were not aware of the tax. First announced in 2018, the tax is applied to plastic packaging produced in or imported into the UK which does not contain at least 30% recycled plastic. Only packaging which is not predominantly plastic by weight is excluded.

It is designed to provide a clear economic incentive for businesses, to use recycled material in the production of plastic packaging, who have not done so already. In return, creating more demand for the material and stimulating larger levels of recycling and collection of plastic waste.

For a long time, the debate has labelled plastic as bad and the most harmful material for the environment in comparison to others, such as paper. Whilst in some respects this is true, at Southgate, we promote the benefits of paper products and the ease of recyclability.

Recycled plastic has a carbon footprint that can be up to four times lower than that of virgin plastic. If we are to reach the Global Climate G7 goals of achieving carbon neutral, the Plastic Packaging Tax is a key step.

We believe careful research and consideration is very important when it comes to packaging. Switching to alternative materials to appear more sustainable can sometimes lead to more issues, resulting in higher energy, water-use or increased CO2 emissions in production and transport.

There is plenty to consider when thinking about the production process, yet there are many actions which can be introduced so every business is contributing to building a more sustainable future.

Whilst there are disadvantages to using both materials, instead of pitting plastic and paper against one another, we should be using them responsibly to ensure they are sustainable, recyclable, reusable, biodegradable and waste reductive.

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