Sector's insights

Plastics tax: how it affects the industrial sector

22 de March de 2023

  • On 1 January 2023, the new Special Tax on Non-Reusable Plastic Packaging came into force in Spain. This tax is levied on non-recycled plastic and will have an impact on most industrial companies.
  • The new tax is levied on the manufacture, import or intra-Community acquisition of non-reusable packaging containing plastic, whether it is empty or whether it is containing, protecting, handling, distributing or presenting goods.

Which products are affected?

Payment of this tax is linked to a number of items made of plastic, such as non-reusable packaging, semi-finished plastic products for the manufacture of packaging, as well as products containing this material to enable the closure, marketing or presentation of packaging that cannot be reused, such as boxes, packaging tapes and film rolls, at a cost of €0.45 per kilo of non-recycled plastic.

Products that are not covered are paints, lacquers, inks or adhesives intended to protect products; as well as intra-Community imports of packaging where the quantity of non-recycled plastic is less than 5 kg.

Price impact

With this application, it is expected that there will be a significant impact on industrial prices, leading to cost increases which are mostly passed on to the final consumer.

More than 40,000 companies, grouped in different employers’ associations, have expressed their disagreement with this tax because they see their jobs at risk and the addition of another handicap to the situation experienced with the increase in the price of raw materials, energy costs and the lack of qualified professionals.

Objective of the tax

The aim of the tax is none other than to curb pollution and promote the circular economy, thus encouraging the search for new packaging materials and the recycling of plastic waste.

The OECD figures show that globally, twice as much plastic waste is being generated as two decades ago and the most worrying thing is that only 9% of the total is successfully recycled.

Within this panorama, Spain is a benchmark in plastics recycling and is positioned as the second country in the European Union in packaging recycling with a total recycling rate for packaging (household, commercial and industrial) of 50.7% in 2019 and 51.5% in 2020, surpassing the European average rate of 46%, according to Eurostat reports.

What measures are companies taking?

Faced with this situation and with a future where measures will be even more demanding in terms of decarbonisation, companies are obliged to develop new production processes and commit to circular economy strategies.

The challenge of reducing single-use plastic by 50% by 2026 puts companies in check by the challenging and ambitious commitment, because plastics are increasingly in demand in society and this generates tensions, being currently more expensive to buy a tonne of recycled material than another that is virgin.

Although some strategies may serve as a short-term palliative, the truth is that the industry is undergoing changes of recomposition in which the commitment to IoT, automation, renewable energies or the circular economy itself are necessary to approach a solid and prosperous Industry 4.0 in the long term.