Let’s see the impact of the new Law and Plastic Taxes

The new Law on Plastic waste and the Plastic Taxes derived from it are imminent.  Although in Spain its application is delayed until 2023, its impact is already becoming noticeable, not only in Spanish territory but also in different countries of the European Union, since the manufacturers of plastic products have been working months, if not years, to adapt to the new scenario that arises. 

Find out about the national and international repercussions.

What is the new Waste And Plastic Taxes Act?

The plastic tax has now become one of the greatest challenges for businesses across Europe, as new  Plastic Waste legislation and its  Plastic Taxes have begun to generate impactful effects.

While any limitation on the use of potentially polluting materials, whatever their origin, always constitutes an excellent initiative in any society to protect the environment and reduce the obvious pollution we live, it is also  true that an exhaustive analysis of other aspects that are required,  make the impact truly positive.

Although the various Community directives that have appeared in recent years explicitly do not create a European tax on plastics, it is true that the most recent ones encourage the  Member States to introduce a new category based on "green" contributions into their national policies, with a considerable impact on tax collection.

The transposition of the entire chain of directives into Spanish legislation gets the Spanish government to propose its Draft Law on Waste and Contaminated Soils by creating two new "green" taxes: the tax on non-reusable plastic packaging and the tax on the deposit of waste in landfills and incineration.

Around this new political configuration of taxes on plastic packaging, a great controversy has been generated: Are the regional measures of the European Union enough to balance the sustainable economy that the Union seeks ?

Faced with the increasingly accelerated climate devastation that we see on a daily basis, the homogeneous implementation of clear policies in all territories and the incorporation of other factors that manage to reduce pollution, seem to be the promising path for realistic effectiveness. 


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Measures taken in the plastic tax law by some countries

The tax on single-use plastics has impacted different EU countries, which have taken concrete measures in this regard.

> Tax on plastic packaging in Spain

In Spain, the regulation introduces, for the first time, limitations on the commercialization of single-use plastics, that is, plastics that cannot be reused. The goal is the reduction of this material, expecting that in 2026 it will be 50% and 70% in 2030.

Those products on which the law directly impacts in the first instance are: glasses, lids, food containers, cutlery, cotton buds, straws, etc. 

The basic intention of the regulation is to avoid the generation of waste that constitutes a problem in environmental policies worldwide due to the great pollution they produce. 

In this way, the bill marks a calendar to prevent the high generation of waste in Spain, seeking to reduce the weight of waste by 13% by 2025 and by 15% by 2030, compared to those produced in 2010. 

The standard includes a tax on landfilling, incineration and co-incineration of waste. Proper waste management is essential to reduce waste and avoid environmental pollution.

It also foresees the implementation of new separate collections of domestic waste, textiles, among others, which promote recycling and the reduction of large amounts of waste.


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The Tax on non-reusable plastic packaging, which will be transferred to the Autonomous Communities in Spain, will be indirect and will affect the manufacture, import or purchase within the EU of non-reusable plastic packaging destined for the Spanish market.  It will be applied to both empty and full containers, including also semi-finished products (such as preforms, thermoplastic sheets and others that require one or more phases of subsequent transformation to be used as packaging), as well as those intended to allow closure (caps and others).

The taxable amount is constituted by the quantity of non-recycled plastic, in kilograms, contained in the packaging and the  impositive type  will be 0.45 euros per kilogram of plastic, which exempt from this tax exports and intra-Community supplies in addition to other exemptions related to the use to which  said packaging is going to be destined (medicines,  etc)


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> Measures taken in the United Kingdom

The United Kingdom, as a member of the EU in 2015, already implemented the tax on plastic bags, achieving a 95% reduction in their consumption in supermarkets. 

On April 1, 2022, already away from the EU, the UK Plastic Packaging Tax (PPT) will come into force.  The tax will be charged at a rate of £200 per metric tonne of plastic if the proportion of recycled plastic contained in the packaging is less than 30% of its total weight. The goal is to make 100%  plastics recyclable by 2025.

The plastic packaging tax will apply to plastic packaging manufactured or imported into the UK, where plastics used in the manufacture of the packaging are recycled at less than 30%. It appears to be assumed that plastic packaging does not meet the recycled content test unless you can prove otherwise.

In short, this new   UK Plastics Tax  Act encourages a levy on plastics that do not include a minimum of 30% recycled material.


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> Measures taken in France

On February 10, 2020, France published its "Loi relative à la lutte contre le gaspillage et à l'économie circulaire", known as the AGEC Law. This law aims to act in favor of the environment through several measures: the reduction of waste, the promotion of the recycling of goods (circular economy), the reduction / elimination of plastics, the extension of the life of consumer goods to reduce CO2 emissions and preserve biodiversity.

Specifically, the law aims to achieve the goal of 100% recycled plastic by 2025 and achieve zero disposable plastic by 2040.

Later in April 2021 the so-called Decree of the 3Rs, comes to specify the details of the objectives of the Law:

  • 20% reduction in single-use plastic packaging by the end of 2025
  • 100% reduction in "unnecessary" single-use plastic packaging by 2025
  • An operational recycling channel for all single-use plastic packaging by 1 January 2025

Very important is the chapter on consumer information and the fight against waste. It seeks to promote valuable information that awakens awareness among consumers about the environmental characteristics of certain materials and the importance of caring for the planet.

On 1 January 2022, a consultation based on different criteria is established that will analyse the Eco Contribution in the context of the Extended Producer Responsibility Regime and will be adjusted through a system of bonuses and penalties, based on environmental performance criteria, including the incorporation of recycled material.  For example, if the packaging does not contain materials that interfere with recycling, you will have a bonus of 10% of the Eco contribution; if it includes 25% or more of recycled raw material, it will also get a bonus; if the packaging is multimaterial it would be subject to penalty of up to 10% of the Eco...

It is expected that in 2023 this bonus/penalty system will be implemented.


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Impact and repercussions of the plastic tax on the world

The world society is saturated with information that, many times, is not complete and usually has a clear intentionality linked to certain sectors that seek an immediate impact. 

While environmental pollution is an urgently needed problem, many see this plastic tax as an excuse for fundraising by governments and not a comprehensive, rigorously analyzed solution to benefit the planet.

Salvador Benedito, member of the Valencian Association of Plastics Entrepreneurs (AVEP) has been forceful considering that the measure taken in Spain does not refer to an "environmental impact or life cycle analysis; since in the case of cardboard we have to cut trees to get the raw material; and in the case of glass, the energy consumption for its transformation and management as waste is 10 times greater than its equivalent in plastic."

On the other hand, plastic can be the protagonist of the Circular Economy, the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and decarbonization thanks to its properties of low melting temperature, lightness, etc.

The main problem of plastic is focused on waste management given that in terms of reuse, more and more companies in the world are betting on the manufacture of biodegradable and recyclable plastics.


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Next steps in the plastics industry

The plastic tax has set a clear goal for the industry: the implementation of cost-effective strategies that are careful with the environment and reduce environmental pollution linked to plastic waste.

To this end, it is essential to guarantee viable policies aimed at recyclable, reusable plastic packaging. The present measures, which will be imposed in the future, have to do with:

  • Reduction of plastics in the packaging marketed. 
  • Waste prevention measures.
  • Designs that encourage the reuse of packaging 
  • Improved recyclability, including the complexity of certain materials for recycling.

Considering such background, some challenges faced by packaging manufacturers are:

The integration of post-consumer recycled material into the production process. Ecodesign and the search for alternatives to use complex PE with the aim of facilitating its recycling. Implementation of New Manufacturing Technologies that facilitate mechanical recycling to consider the reintegration of recycled material in new packaging.  These and many more measures are the daily work of our IDI team at ALCION.

At Alcion Packaging Solutions we develop and control the manufacture of the packaging, from its design to its delivery to get 100% sustainable plastic packaging.