The plastic tax agreed last week as part of the new Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) — the European Union’s financial perspective for the coming seven years — and coronavirus recovery fund, will further increase the cost of plastic recycling and encourage the shift to other packaging materials with a bigger environmental impact, according to EuPC Managing Director Alexandre Dangis.
The tax, consisting of an 0.80 euros per kilogram levy on non-recycled plastic packaging waste to be paid by member states into the EU budget, is due to be implemented January 1, 2021.
Presented by the European Commission as “contribution to the EU budget designed to incentivize member states to increase recycling from plastic waste," the European plastics industry is warning that it might have the opposite effect.
“As the revenues of the EU plastic tax are not earmarked to be invested into the waste and recycling infrastructure, it will not increase the recycling of plastic waste in Europe,” said Dangis.
“To truly increase recycling rates across Europe and protect the environment, taxation of the land filling of plastic packaging waste would be more efficient.”
EuPC points out that improving the recycling of plastics packaging requires considerable investment. By allowing the revenue from the tax to simply flow into the coffers of the EU, it will no longer be available for investments in the transition towards a circular economy.
As a next step, the further details of the plan must be worked out in a specific law and approved by the European Parliament and Council of the EU. While much remains as yet unclear, it is certain that the member states will have ample freedom in the measures they choose to implement to collect the funds to be transferred to the EU.
The implementation and complexity of different schemes from country to country will lead to a host of heterogeneous measures — destroying the single market, warns EUPC.