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Sustainable packaging catering

New legislation is on the way to encourage greener packaging – and hospitality sector businesses are likely to be impacted. So start planning for change now!

What is happening?

From 1 April 2022, a new Plastic Packaging Tax* will be applied to any plastic packaging that fails to contain at least 30% recycled plastic – whether produced in the UK, or imported. No penalty will apply to plastic packaging containing at least 30% recycled plastic, or any packaging which is not predominantly plastic by weight.


The tax aims to increase the use of recycled plastic in plastic packaging – it is estimated that the move should increase the use of recycled plastic in packaging by around 40%. This is equal to carbon savings of nearly 200,000 tonnes in 2022 to 2023, based on current carbon factors.

Natasha Law Pre-packed food
Chilli chicken with pita, pre-packaged sandwiches displayed in a commercial refrigerator

Who is affected, and to what extent?

If you use plastic packaging, you need to consider what you currently buy. Change to a compliant alternative, to avoid the tax. Alternatively, some businesses may simply pass on the tax cost to consumers – through as plastic packaging usually makes up a very small amount of the total cost of goods, the impact will be small.

What can be done to mitigate these additional costs?

Look for packaging which contains at least 30% recycled material, to avoid the new tax. Many food and beverage manufacturers are already transitioning from virgin PET plastics to recycled materials. Recycled Polyethylene Terephthalate, or rPET, is created by recycling previously used plastics, including plastic bottles. Many of the well-known beverage brands have made commitments to move to 100% recycled plastic bottles.

* The full government policy paper can be viewed at:

We are here to help you

There are options available for prepared-on-site packaging, such as salad/deli containers, made from recycled content. Contact your Pelican Procurement Manager or email us at so we can help you identify suitable products from your current suppliers or source alternative solutions. 

Furthermore, if you are looking to reduce your carbon footprint, even more, we can help you

  • Eliminate single use plastics
  • Reduce waste and optimise recycling
  • Reduce deliveries and food miles
  • Introduce proven sustainability schemes in your business
  • Source sustainable suppliers and products that meet your needs

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