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Spain – The Only EU Country With a Tax on Non-Reusable Plastic Packaging

Non-Reusable Plastic
March 21, 2023

Contributed by: Munt Audit & Forensic.

In 2020, Brussels created a new category of Union own resources based on national contributions, calculated on the basis of plastic packaging that is not recycled through Council Decision (EU, Euratom) 2020/2053. As of 14 December 2020, the European Union’s own resources system was established and each country is obliged to pay €0.8 per kilogram of waste that is not recycled.

Tax on Non-Reusable Plastic Packaging

Since 14 December 2020, each Member State has been implementing different measures and, in some cases, tax measures; however, these have not yet come into force. In contrast to what’s happening in Spain, which, following the European line of measures on recycling, approved last year in 2022, the Tax on Non-Reusable Plastic Packaging through Law 7/2022 on 8 April, on waste and contaminated soils for a circular economy.

There are cases outside the EU (e.g. the United Kingdom) which have had a similar tax since April 2022. However, this legislative action makes Spain the only EU country to apply a tax of this nature.

According to the regulation, since its entry into force on January 1 2023, non-reusable plastic packaging in Spain has been subject to a new tax of 0.45 euros per kilogram, making Spain the only EU country with such a measure.

What sectors are affected?

This tax has a wide impact on countless sectors. It is levied on the manufacture, import or intra-Community acquisition of non-reusable plastic packaging, as well as articles designed to contain, protect, handle, distribute and present goods.

The law establishes a series of exemptions from taxation, such as packaging for medicines or medical devices. Also, non-reusable plastic containers that are sent outside Spain or those whose weight does not exceed 5 kilograms in a month.

What is the aim?

The aim is to transform the European Union into a “recycling society”, contributing to the fight against climate change, protecting the marine environment and establishing the principles of the circular economy through basic legislation on waste.

Non-compliance and industry concerns

The Spanish tax authorities have established a series of penalties in the event of non-compliance with the rules governing the tax, the amount of which depends on the infringement committed.

Before the tax came into force, various federations and associations demanded the suspension of its application in our country, following the example of Italy, where the government of Giorgia Meloni suspended the entry into force of the tax on plastic and sugar that was planned to be applied from this year, 2023.

In addition, companies claim that they don’t know how to manage the new plastic tax because of the difficulty in classifying the products that may be subject to this tax due to the lack of information available on the practical application of the tax.

Management of the tax and its implications

We understand that this problem, regarding the difficulty in determining the quantities of plastic subject to the tax, is the same problem that EU countries considering the application of similar taxes will have to deal with.

Companies in the plastic sector that are obliged to pay this tax are adding an additional cost to the product they offer, generating dissatisfaction among end-customers, who, on the other hand, are also aware of the benefits of reducing plastic consumption for the environment and the marine environment.

Is the new plastic tax here to stay?

After almost three months of applying this tax in our country, the first thing we can say is that everything points to the fact that it is here to stay, just as we can also take stock of the first damages and benefits of its application.

It is clear that any help to counteract man’s footprint on the environment is beneficial. However, we understand that this type of measure – which generates more bureaucracy than public funds for the State, must always be accompanied by the greatest possible consensus. Above all, by arduous prior work by experts in the sector and information and tools for taxpayers that allow correct application of the tax in order to achieve the intended objective – trying to minimize, as much as possible, the negative impact on the country’s economy.

Written by Angie Bartolozzi
Tax and Forensic Expert at Munt Audit & Forensic

Angie is a lawyer specializing in tax and mercantile law, as well as in the accounting and economic area. She has more than five years of experience preparing economic-financial expert reports and business advising. Angie has provided training on special tax for various business associations in Spain and on forensics for AGN International members.

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