Budget 2020 announcements for the packaging industry

Apr 03, 2020
ULMA Packaging UK believes actions taken by the Government in the 2020 Budget to limit plastic packaging waste represent a promising step to more sustainable solutions

ULMA Packaging UK believes actions taken by the Government in the 2020 Budget to limit plastic packaging waste represent a promising step to more sustainable solutions. As an industry, the packaging sector is continually moving toward a more circular economy in plastics, and this latest legislation will help drive innovation and achieve that goal.


With companies using plastic packaging containing less than 30 per cent recycled content set to be taxed £200 per tonne from April 2022, we feel plastic packaging machinery manufacturers are well-positioned to take the lead in prescribing eco-friendly solutions. It is essential that these companies show leadership on this matter, and through initiatives such as #ULMAweCare, companies can help usher industry into a greener, more sustainable future.


This latest budget provides further impetus toward that overall goal, and may lead businesses to consider a broader range of packaging solutions that offer plastic reduction, or even replacement. For example, in the case of poultry suppliers, by taking steps such as packaging cuts via vertical bagging rather than on plastic trays, or removing the tray from whole bird flow wrap applications, this could help further enhance the sustainability of their operations.


Furthermore, organisations should broadly consider moving from pre-made packaging trays if they wish to reduce their plastic consumption in line with government guidelines. By opting for thermoforming technology, making packages on demand instead, companies can achieve between a 20-30 per cent reduction in plastics used due to the changing gauge and weight.


Vacuum packaging could also help firms adhere to the new rules set out by the Government. Specifically, newer technologies such as vertical form fill sealing air extraction methods can reduce excess air inside packaging, allowing the production of smaller packs using less material. We support the development and application of these kinds of sustainable packaging solutions, and would encourage manufacturers to take them under consideration in light of this impending legislation.


The reduction of plastics in packaging is a priority across multiple sectors, and a wide variety of solutions exist to assist in this goal. As packaging machinery suppliers, ULMA Packaging UK and other key stakeholders are best placed to support businesses throughout this process, and should continue developing further solutions such as recyclable packaging materials in order to help better equip industry for a more sustainable future.


In return, the Government could also consider additional measures to aid in this transition. Though there is currently an exemption for businesses manufacturing or importing less than 10 tonnes of plastic packaging in the 12-month period following the tax’s implementation, further allowances should be made. For example, companies using sustainable plastic materials such as polyethylene, for which recycling infrastructure is still being built, should be allowed a ‘break’ from the new ruling.