The Plastic Packaging Tax (Descriptions of Products) Regulations 2021

Jurisdiction: United Kingdom

Commencement: 1st April 2022

Amends: New Legislation

Mini Summary

The aim of the Plastic Packaging Tax is to encourage the use of recycled plastic instead of new plastic material within plastic packaging. These Regulations define which ‘packaging components’ are subject to the Plastic Packaging Tax.


The Plastic Packaging Tax was introduced by the Finance Act 2021  to encourage the use of recycled plastic instead of new plastic material within plastic packaging. The tax will apply to chargeable plastic packaging components produced in the United Kingdom (UK) or imported into the UK by an organisation.

Definition of packaging components

Section 48 of the Finance Act defines packaging components as products that are designed for containing, protecting, handling, delivering or presenting goods at any stage in the supply chain from producer to user or customer; these can be either alone or in combination with other products.

An amendment to the definition of packaging components is necessary to ensure that the tax is properly targeted. Instead of an exhaustive list, the definition uses categories to describe the products, which will allow additional products to be added without the need for further legislation.

The definition is amended by the:

  • removal of categories of packaging products; and
  • addition of categories of packaging products.

Removal of packaging product categories

The definition of ‘packaging component’ is changed by removing the following categories of packaging products that do not contribute towards environmental harm.

  • Packaging products that primarily provide a storage function.
  • Packaging products that are an integral part of the goods.
  • Packaging products that are re-used in the presentation of goods.

Packaging products that primarily provide a storage function

Packaging products that are mainly designed for long-term storage by consumers, and are suitable for re-use as storage for similar goods, are removed from the definition of ‘packaging component’. These products typically do not contribute to plastic pollution. Examples of these include:

  • glasses cases;
  • toolboxes;
  • power tool cases;
  • first-aid kits;
  • manicure set cases;
  • earphone cases;
  • video game cases; and
  • board game boxes.

For the full list of exceptions & exemptions, the full piece of legislation is available in The Legislation Update Service.


The Legislation Update Service is the best way to stay up to date automatically with legislation in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Sign up for your free trial to get instant access.



These summaries (The Compliance People Materials) are provided free of charge as an example of the Legislation Update Service’s content. They are not intended to constitute legal advice for any specific situation. The Compliance People Materials are general and educational in nature and may not apply to the specific facts and circumstances of individual cases. The Compliance People does not accept any responsibility for action taken by you or any User as a result of any The Compliance People Materials provided by us. You should take specific legal advice when dealing with specific situations.