By Mark Victory, Senior Editor, Recycling, ICIS
The EU’s €800/tonne plastic packaging waste charge, passed by the EU Council on July 21st and which takes effect from January, sent shockwaves through the market because of both its size and narrow timeframe to implementation.
Reaction has so far been mixed, with immediate questions on how it will be calculated, how it will be passed through the supply chain, and whether it will lead to greater regulatory divergence on plastics.
The new charge of €800/tonne for all non-recycled packaging waste will be paid by EU nations from 1 January 2021. National contributions will be calculated by the European Commission using existing reporting obligations under the Packaging Waste Directive (Directive 94/62/ECC) and its implementing Decision (Decision (EU) 2019/665.
Under that directive member states provide data on plastic packaging and recycling. The data are published on the Eurostat website.
The charge will be used to fund the coronavirus recovery package and charged at nation state level.
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. Nation states could, however, seek to recover the cost of the charge through taxation.
The methods used to meet the cost of the charge will be up to individual countries, and the EU Council has not proposed any regulatory stipulations around this. Individual countries are free adopt different approaches and could seek to recoup the cost of meeting the charge from differing parts of the supply chain, leading to potential regulatory divergence.
How nation states will incorporate this into national legislation remains the key uncertainty for plastic and recycling markets.
Some players have welcomed the move because it could encourage higher recycling rates in the future, and for devolving how this is implemented across the supply chain to individual national governments.