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R and D Tax Credits UK Packaging Industry

Packaging is an essential part of bringing any product to market. From transportation and warehousing to sale and end use, packaging is vital in facilitating the protection, conservation and handling of goods.

Barrie Dowsett

Chief Executive Officer


In the UK and across the world, there are all sorts of packaging innovations underway. Efforts are focused particularly on optimising packaging practices, especially with regard to safety, effectiveness, environmental impact and efficiency.

In this article we will look more at the types of innovation taking place in the UK packaging industry, as well as considering how research and development (R&D) Tax Credits can help.

Packaging industry innovation

Over the last twenty years or so, the packaging industry has had to face a diverse range of challenges, from riding out economic uncertainty to dealing with high energy and raw material costs. But one thing has always remained clear - a continuing programme of packaging innovation is crucial to a company’s success.

The opportunities for advancement here are limitless, in fact the whole industry has revolved around innovation since its inception. Examples of ground-breaking products that changed the face of packaging forever include moisture-proof cellophane, developed in the early 1900s. Then of course zipper bags for storing food came about in the 1960s, plus modified atmosphere packages for preserving meat which were invented in the 1990s. This is just a tiny example.

Materials, designs and processes

The quest for new materials take precedence in the packaging industry. This is largely due to an increased awareness of environmental issues coupled with the ever-increasing costs of raw materials. New, highly innovative materials have recently been discovered that are smart and renewable, however there’s still plenty of research to do. Furthermore, new processes are required that will enhance effectiveness and efficiency of operations whilst adhering to increasingly strict regulations. When it comes to design, the packaging industry needs to respond to new lifestyles swiftly and robustly in an incredibly competitive market.


Innovation within the packaging industry is much more about environmental footprint than ever before. Responsible sourcing, waste reduction, energy efficiency, water conservation and reducing greenhouse gasses are just some examples of new and unavoidable priorities.


Just like any other field of economic activity, the packaging industry is always on the hunt for new ways to boost the cost-effectiveness of its products and processes. It’s all about coming up with creative strategies to increase productivity in relation to cost. Areas where this is particularly relevant would include enhancing efficiency of production and transportation, reducing package weight, creating less waste water and extending product shelf life.

Innovative efforts

There are many innovative packaging initiatives which are currently ongoing, covering huge scope and variety. Here we look at just three of them:

New materials

One particular type of new material we’ve heard about is a biodegradable Styrofoam type which is actually created from mushrooms. Inspiration was taken from the natural process of adhesion, where mushroom tissue can bind together woodchips. Scientists are therefore now looking to use mycelium (the supporting structure of mushrooms) as a building material. Additionally, by using a combination of mycelium and agricultural waste, it’s now possible to design packaging products in various different sizes and shapes. It’s a particularly “green” type of packaging too, in that it’s totally biodegradable and doesn’t require external energy. In fact, it could be just the start of natural packaging becoming central to the future of the industry.

Electroluminescent packaging

Display functions that use electroluminescent effects are also starting to emerge in the packaging industry. Essentially, an aesthetically pleasing effect is created when the material emits light in response to an electric current, resulting in a colourful depiction of texts, images and shining logos. Different areas of the packaging can be illuminated when required, and even motion sensors can be added too. Originally created as a marketing tool, electroluminescent packaging grabs the consumer's attention, and is fantastic for use with pricier goods like cosmetics, liqueurs and perfumes.

Smart labels

An explosion in the use of mobile devices across the world has revolutionised the way we access information. Going forward, this will mean that every package will be a smart package - and it will never get lost. Mobile phones will also be able to scan a barcode, allowing consumers to instantly find out information about a product, as well as its price and reviews. Such innovative barcode scanning apps will also make business activities like asset tracking and inventory management much easier.

Where do R&D Tax Credits fit into this?

Research and development (R&D) Tax Credits are a government-backed tax relief incentive that rewards innovative UK companies. The scheme offers a valuable source of cash that businesses can use towards creating new products and processes or improving ones that already exist.

Companies can claim on average 33p of every £1 spent on R&D project work. In any given year alone, the government pays out around £3.5 billion in R&D Tax Credits – that’s a massive reserve of money that your company could be missing out on!

To receive the relief, businesses need to submit a R&D Tax Credit application, and the money will be offered either as a reduction in Corporation Tax or as a cash payment.

In order to receive R&D Tax Credits, companies must:

  • Be a UK limited company that pays Corporation Tax
  • Have completed ‘innovation work’ (i.e eligible R&D activities)
  • Have spent money on these activities/projects.

In putting together a claim, companies must identify what work they’ve completed constitutes R&D. Fortunately, there’s a massive scope for R&D across all businesses sectors and it’s not just about lab coats and laboratories. Plus, when claiming for the first time, companies can usually claim for their last two completed accounting periods, making a cash windfall very likely.

Interested? Find out more on our R&D Tax Credits page.

Wondering whether your company qualifies for R&D Tax Credits?

Contact the friendly, professional team at Myriad Associates today and we can assist you in determining whether your company meets the relevant criteria for R&D tax relief. We can offer advice, answer questions and guide you through the process of applying, based on any R&D work carried out. Just call 0207 118 6045 or use our contact us page.

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