United Kingdom introduces plastic packaging tax

Amsterdam, 5thMarch 2019– The Plastic Pact recently presented by the Dutch Government aspires to close the ring of recycling, through recycling more and recycling better. Industries have promised to achieve a minimum of 35% use of recyclates for the manufacture of all plastic packaging. Recyclate is recovered from and manufactured from waste plastic.

But there’s a problem. New (virgin) plastic is substantially cheaper and of a much better quality than recyclate. Add to that the expense of collecting, sorting and processing waste plastic. The industry frankly misses the financial incentive to use recyclates in packaging, which defeats the actual purpose.

The UK thinks to solve this problem by taxing the production as well as the import of (empty) packaging. The UK Government has decided that from April 2022, a tax will be levied on plastic packaging that contains less that a certain minimal percentage of recyclate. A bottom line of 30% is proposed but this percentage could be higher or lower depending on the result of the currently running consultation on the whole.

A tax on new plastic is an effective measure that will ensure that new packaging material will become more expensive. This will cause a dip in the demand for plastic and will also mean a reduction in the use of fossil fuels, leading to a reduction in CO2 emissions. It will also immediately become more financially attractive to collect and recycle waste plastic because packaging made from that will remain untaxed.

It remains a mystery as to why the Dutch Government does not implement this tax. The Plastic Pact does not even mention such a possibility.


Read also – The advance towards EU taxing on Virgin Plastic.


The advance towards EU taxing on virgin plastic

Amsterdam, 28 November 2018– Is there even basic political support for a European tax on virgin plastic? It would appear so. Günther Oettinger, European Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources suggested just this, last January already. The EU Green Party also began a campaign this year for the introduction of a tax on plastic manufacturers. At the very same time, the packaging industries are leading strong lobbying aimed at preventing any kind of tax on plastic and advocating purely voluntary measures being taken, if any.

The European Commission (EC) wants to see much more plastic being recycled. There is no announcement of any tax to stimulate that at all in the Plastics Strategy. Instead, the EC required the industry to promise to clean up their act, on a voluntary basis, just this last summer. From among the 65 pledges received by the Commission, it transpires that European recyclers in 2025 could recycle 10 million tonnes of plastic. However, going on this week’s press release on the subject, the EC has identified a huge problem. They may very well say there are 10 million tonnes of plastic for recycling, but there is only actual demand for 5 million tonnes.

Plastic manufacturers want to (re)use only good quality recycled plastic. Frans Timmermans, European Commissioner for Better Regulation (etc.) said: “We will now analyse which should be the next steps to further boost the uptake of recycled plastics and close the gap between supply and demand”. From the press release, it appears that this further analysis, to be published by the EC early 2019, does not exclude new laws and economic incentives. Nicely bringing tax on virgin plastic into the picture.

The discussion on levies for virgin plastic has been given a boost within the UK recently. The core message taken from last week’s report as distributed among UK MPs is that companies are taxed specifically when they use non-recycled plastic, or plastic with too low a percentage of recycled content. The report was written for the WWF and Resource Association, by the Eunomia advisory.

This suggested method of operation will make it more expensive to make new (packaging) plastic. Meaning, an overall reduction in the amount of plastic, a reduction in the use of raw materials, and a reduction in CO2 emissions besides. On the other side of the coin, it makes it financially more attractive to make and use recycled plastic, given that that will remain free of any levy.

Maria Westerbos, MD of The Plastic Soup Foundation says: “We have long advocated a tax on primary packaging plastic. We urgently call upon the Dutch government to show their hand, anticipate this trend and lead the way in support of the levying of a tax on virgin plastic within Europe.”

Also read:
Breaking news eu announces tax on plastic

Over 30 kilos of plastic waste per person a year and barely recycled

European tax on plastic misses the point

Amsterdam, 29 May 2018 – The European Commission presented its proposal yesterday for a new Directive to reduce certain types of plastic and their negative impact on the environment. The proposal points to the need to reduce Single Use Plastic (SUP) but does not include reduction goals. One major shortcoming of the proposal is that it does not include any financial instruments to make reduction a reality.

At the start of this year, European Commissioner Oettinger for Budget and Human Resources announced a “plastic tax”. The Plastic Strategy, that was published shortly thereafter, revealed that the feasibility of this plan still had to be assessed. The proposal that was published yesterday makes no mention of a European tax on plastic.

Tax on the use of new plastic throughout the European Union would be an effective tool. On the one hand, it would make new plastic more expensive to produce while, on the other hand, making it more attractive to recycle old plastic.

Despite this, the Euro Commission recently announced a different tax on plastic in line with the new European budget. This tax is everything but an EU wide tax as was originally intended. Instead, it proposes that every member state pay € 0.80 to Europe for every kilo of non-recyclable packaging.

This proposal misses the point entirely and will not lead to a reduction in the use of plastic and tackling the plastic soup. The emphasis on reducing plastic has now been shifted from production to recycling. Producers of plastic can simply keep on producing it. And who will end up paying for plastic? Tax payers and not producers who are responsible for this plastic in the first place. Furthermore, packaging makes up only 40% of all the plastic produced.

Bas Eickhout (member of the GroenLinks party) European Member of Parliament started a campaign for a tax on plastic that will reduce plastic production. Sign the petition here.

Also read: European commissions proposal to reduce single use plastic


Breaking news: EU announces tax on plastic

Amsterdam, January 12, 2018 —First there was a tweet. Gunther Oettinger, the EU commissioner for budget and human resources, wondered whether the European Union should impose a tax on the production of plastic for environmental reasons. Soon after, he gave a written explanation to journalists in — among others — this message. 

The European Commission wants to impose a tax on plastic in the entirety of the European Union in order fight pollution and to make use of the income it would provide. Due to Brexit, however, it has become more difficult to finalize such a measure. Another important reason for the implementation of this proposal is because, as of recently, China no longer imports waste plastic from Europe.

This is important news. 

There are two ways to do something in order to cut the use of plastic in practice, thereby lowering the accompanying environmental damage. The first is to prohibit certain applications of the material, such as the use of microplastics in personal care products. The second is to make plastic more expensive, for example by imposing a levy on production. At the moment, plastic is dirt cheap, which means that the cost of the pollution it causes is not included in the price. Because plastic is so cheap, it is massively used and preferred over other materials on the market. Practically every separate fruit is packaged in it. Single-use plastic dominates, and the subsequent damage — the plastic soup — appears on the front pages of the news more and more often. 

Up until now, producers and politicians maintained an entirely different approach; placing the burden on the consumer. People must be taught that plastic can no longer end up as litter. Already-used plastic must be recycled. Both these strategies leave the annual growth of plastic production undisturbed, and both offer no results. It seems to be an illusion that the plastic cycle can be closed completely (so that plastic doesn’t reach the environment); an entire population can hardly be raised to ensure that everyone neatly separates their waste and always tidies up after themselves.

Commissioner Oettinger does not yet know if the tax will fall on producers or consumers. Either way, the announcement is a milestone. We cannot lose time. By making plastic more expensive, both consumers as well as producers will deal with the material in a different way.

Maria Westerbos, director of the Plastic Soup Foundation: “We encourage a Europe-wide tax on plastic. This is a step in the right direction. Disposable plastic will be taxed, hopefully suggesting that its heyday is over”.