Implemented on 1 January 2021, the EU Plastic Tax, targeted at EU member states and feeding into the EU budget, aims to reduce the amount of plastic pollution and increase the recycling of plastic packaging by imposing a fee on the production and importation of plastic packaging that does not meet minimum recycling requirements. This incentivises producers and consumers to shift towards more sustainable and recyclable packaging options.
The tax contribution per EU member state is calculated at a standard rate of EUR 0.80 per kilogram (kg) of non-recycled plastic packaging waste. Currently, member states either pay the contribution from their own national budget, regardless of whether they have set up a national system to collect the tax, or they design their own national tax legislation (i.e. “plastic tax”) and set up a system to collect this by way of a levy on specific taxpayers. Some examples of national taxes being introduced are listed below, with more countries expected to follow:
Italy has introduced a plastic tax on the consumption of manufactured single-use plastic products and semi-finished plastic products from which non-reusable plastic packaging will be produced. Exemptions include plastic material and certain medical devices contained in single-use products derived from recycling processes. As of 1 January 2023, this tax is paid by the manufacturer or importer at EUR 0.45 per kg of plastic or EUR 450 per tonne (t).
Spain has also introduced a tax on non-reusable plastic packaging products. This tax applies not only to product manufacturers in Spain, but to every company that buys plastic packaged products or empty plastic packaging in-country or imports these materials into Spain. Exemptions include recycled plastic and non-reusable plastic packaging used for the protection, distribution and presentation of livestock and agricultural or medical products. As of January 2023, this tax is borne by the manufacturer or importer at a cost of EUR 0.45 per kg or EUR 450 per t.
The tax system in the United Kingdom (UK) comes into action when a plastic packaging component is either produced in or imported into the UK. However, this taxation only concerns chargeable plastic packaging components, often meaning that the proportion of recycled plastic content in the finished component, when measured by weight, is less than 30% of the total amount of plastic in the component. As of 1 April 2022, this tax is borne by the manufacturer or importer in the UK at GBP 200 per t of chargeable plastic packaging components.