EU to Levy Fee on Unrecycled Plastic

Aug. 6, 2020
The European Union has passed a charge on unrecycled plastic packaging of €800 ($947) a ton.

The European Union has passed a charge on unrecycled plastic packaging of €800 ($947) a ton, leaving it up to individual member nations to determine how and from whom to collect.

The measure, passed July 21, mandates that member states must submit to the EU a levy of €800 for every ton of plastic waste that goes unrecycled. The impetus was a desire to raise money to deal with the effects of the pandemic.

The measure is scheduled to take effect in January. It will be up to individual EU members to decide what part of the supply chain, from resin processors to retailers, will contribute which part of the levy. The rule says that such measures must have “a mechanism to avoid excessively regressive impact on national contributions.” The per-nation levy will be calculated according to the EU’s existing reporting obligations.

“The charge is not a tax, although commonly referred to as one, because it is payable at state level rather than by individuals or corporations,” says Mark Victory, senior editor for recycling at Independent Commodity Intelligence Services, a consultancy on global commodities markets. “Nation states could, however, seek to recover the cost of the charge through taxation.”

Victory says that concerns exist that the measure could complicate cross-border trade and create pressure to shift to non-plastic packaging. He quotes a waste management executive as saying, “The only extra project it will push is whether people want to substitute to other materials that aren't plastic. That's a pity. I thought greenwashing was done by companies but now it seems the EU are using it to raise money.”

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