July 24, 2020
From 1 January 2021, the EU will levy a tax on plastic packaging waste that is not recycled. This agreement was made at the beginning of this week by the European government leaders as part of the negotiations on the €750 billion recovery fund. This fund is intended to help European countries severely affected by the corona pandemic.
The recycling of plastic is expected to be promoted because the tax is linked to the reuse of plastic. The technical details will be worked out by the European Commission in the coming months.
Pros and Cons
The European Union is now doing what the Dutch government should have done a long time ago: taxing packaging harmful to the environment. It is a win in the fight against plastic soup that this European tax is now being introduced. However, there are critical comments to be made:
- The tax will be 80 cents per kilogram. The worse a country recycles plastic, the more it will have to pay to Brussels. But is the tax at all high enough to affect?
- The tax is not aimed at the plastic packaging that most often ends up in nature, such as bottles, bags, or go-drinking cups.
- New or virgin plastic is not taxed. The tax, therefore, does not provide an incentive to reduce plastic production as such.
European Plastic Tax has been under discussion for two years
In 2018, the then EU commissioner Oettinger, responsible for the budget, tweeted the suggestion that the European Union could include a tax on plastic production. That proposal would kill two birds with one stone. Making plastic more expensive would result in lower sales, and the European Union would have more income. His proposal did not make it at the time, partly because of effective lobbying from the plastics industry and countries like the Netherlands that do not want Brussels to levy taxes directly.
Last February, Charles Michel, president of the European Council, breathed new life into the proposal. But in his now accepted version, there was no longer any question of taxing virgin plastic. At the last summit on the financing of the corona aid fund, Michel’s proposal was accepted by government heads.
Photo: European Union
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