THE SPANISH COMMITMENT TO THE TAX ON NON-REUSABLE PLASTIC PACKAGING
A very important (and risky) bet by the Spanish Government in terms of environmental taxation, with notable practical problems for Spanish companies.
A new excise tax on non-reusable plastic packaging has been in force in Spain since January 1st. The tax affects a huge number of companies selling all kinds of products that are presented in plastic packaging.
According to the data published in the General State Budget Law, the Government expects to collect 456 million euros a year with this new tax and, at the same time, contribute to the intended environmental purposes: promoting the prevention of generation of non-reusable plastic waste and the recycling of plastic waste.
For the moment, Spain is the only EU state to have introduced this tax, after the Italian Government has put off the date announced on January 1st and postponed its entry into force for one year. (The UK introduced its own Plastic Packaging Tax wef 1 April 2022). It is certain that Italy will closely follow the Spanish experience in this first year of operation and correct some of the problems that may be detected in its implementation. Germany, for its part, is already planning a tax with similar characteristics for the spring of 2025 and it cannot be ruled out that we will see new legislative initiatives in other EU countries. It should not be forgotten that, from 2021, the Member States have the obligation to contribute to the Union budget in the amount of 0,80 euros for the kilograms of plastic packaging waste that is not recycled. That amount is higher than the tax rate of the Spanish plastic tax, which is 0,45 Euros per kilogram of non-recycled plastic packaging.
Regarding the aforementioned problems that are looming (many already expressed by associations of all kinds that tried in vain to delay the entry into force) we can list, among others, the following: those derived from the lack of community harmonization and that prevent a real control in intra-community movements, or the high administrative burden and the need to develop systems for the traceability of plastic packaging (it will mean in many cases that the business cost to implement controls for tax management is much higher the tax to be paid). In this sense, a threshold much higher than that provided for in the Spanish standard is missing, which is 5 kilograms (2,25 euros) per company and month for intra-community acquisitions and imports.