Plastic tax from 2021

What is it, who will pay and who will be affected the most?

From 1 January 2021, the EU budget is supplied with a new levy on plastic packaging produced in a member state that has not been recycled. The proceeds from this, estimated at around EUR 3 billion annually, are to support the fight against COVID-19.

The decision on changes to the financing system of the EU budget (i.e. the system of own resources) was taken by the European Council at its meeting on 17-21 July 2020. However, the changes were finally confirmed at the meeting on 10 December 2020. As a consequence, a new category of contribution to the EU budget based on the mass of non-recycled plastic packaging waste (the so-called plastic payment) was introduced from January 1, 2021.

Due to the need to ratify the provisions on the financing of the EU budget (i.e. Decision 2020/2053 of December 14, 2020 on the EU's own resources system), payments from plastic will be retroactive. This means that regardless of the date of implementation of the EU regulation by the member states, the fee will be charged automatically from the beginning of the year.

The contribution to be paid by the Member States will be EUR 0.80 for each kilogram of non-recycled plastic waste in a given year.

Member States with a GDP below the EU average have negotiated a special reduction in contributions.

The new own resource is intended to encourage Member States to increase the level of recycling of plastic waste and / or to reduce the amount of unprocessed waste in order to reduce the negative effects of a payment from plastic on the budgets of Member States.

Guidelines adopted by the European Council

  • The plastic tax, or Plastic Tax, is to be financed as own resources of EU members.
  • All plastic packaging sold but not processed will be charged.
  • The fee for each kilogram of plastic will be 0.8 euro.
  • The higher the recycling of plastic, the lower the fee.
  • The lower the recycling of plastic, the higher the tax.
  • It will not apply to plastic packaging that contains at least 30% recycled plastic.
  • Promoting recycling, increasing the recyclability of plastics used in the market and increasing the demand for recycled plastics content.
  • Providing an incentive for other Member States to intensify the selective collection of plastics and their efficient recycling, as well as the overall reduction of plastics in circulation.

In the opinion of the Union of Plastics Converters, Plastic Tax will increase the prices of plastic packaging, an estimated 30% to 100%. Moreover, it is emphasized that the tax will affect companies and their condition.


Elimination from the market, incl. disposable cutlery or plastic ear buds and a fee, similar to the one for shopping nets, from plastic cups and food containers – assumes a bill to be implemented into our law the so-called SUP directive.

Most of the costs related to the implementation of EU regulations are ultimately to be borne by consumers / 123RF / PICSEL

The draft act amending the act on the obligations of entrepreneurs with regard to the management of certain wastes and the product fee and certain other acts was sent by the Ministry of Climate and Environment for 21-day consultations on April 1.

The project includes proposals for separate solutions for individual groups of plastic products. The most radical measure, i.e. the prohibition on placing on the market, is to cover all disposables. These are cotton buds, cutlery (forks, knives, spoons, sticks), plates, straws, drink stirrers, balloon sticks and polystyrene containers for food and drinks. At the same time, goods of this type, placed on the market in the territory of the country before the effective date of the act, will be available for sale until stocks are exhausted.

On the other hand, plastic cups for drinks with lids, lids and food containers, including fast food containers from which meals are directly eaten, are expected to be less and less. For that to happen, we have to pay extra for them. This will be achieved by an additional fee of a maximum of PLN 1 per item (this amount is to be specified in the regulation) for placing such products on the market and making such products available to buyers.

The fee will be added to the price of the product. Applicants declare that it aims to discourage consumers from purchasing single-use plastic packaging in favor of products made of alternative materials or those reusable. As a result, by 2026, compared to 2022, there will be a permanent reduction in the use of these products.

In addition, plastic sanitary napkins, tampons, wet wipes, tobacco products with filters and filters, and cups for drinks will have to be marked in a visible, legible and indelible manner.

Trade and gastronomy

The fees are to be collected by retail and wholesale trade units as well as catering services, which offer disposable plastic cups for drinks and food containers. The entrepreneurs will pay the collected sums to the account of the marshal of a given voivodeship once a quarter.

Another task of entrepreneurs is to keep, on an annual basis, paper or electronic records of the number of single-use plastic packaging purchased and issued to customers, or products in single-use plastic packaging. An entrepreneur who has more than one trade or catering facility is to keep records separately for individual units. Such statements will have to be kept for five years.

Entrepreneurs from this group will also have to provide customers with alternative reusable or non-plastic packaging.

The draft therefore imposes additional obligations on the catering industry severely hit by the pandemic.

Loads for gastronomy

The bill also provides for selected types of packaging to be covered (containers for meals to be eaten on the spot or to take away, containers allowing consumption directly from the container, containers for fast food meals and cups) with an additional fee, which may amount to PLN 1 per packaging unit, added to the price of the product (meal).

Such records come at a very difficult moment for the catering industry, which is currently trying to survive during the pandemic by providing only take-out meals. Additional burdens for employees and customers (because we will ultimately pay for the increased cost of packaging, and their employers for the employees' time) can only aggravate this situation.

It is therefore surprising that the draft act lacks financial support mechanisms for the catering industry at this difficult time (tax incentives, ecological reliefs) and in connection with new obligations. The directive was adopted by the European Parliament in 2019, when no one had heard of the pandemic. At present, however, it is one of the major concerns of world markets.

On July 3, 2021, single-use plastic products indicated in the regulations are to disappear from the market. Entrepreneurs, as well as retail trade, must in principle immediately start limiting the introduction of such products to the market.

The recycling industry on the precipice

Representatives from the raw material recovery industry want faster implementation of ROP and even a tax on plastics from virgin raw material. “Without this support, the recycling industry is unprofitable. Without the impact of Covid-19, it would have been so, but the pandemic has made the industry even more difficult. "

This year's crisis hit entities dealing with waste recycling with a double force. The introduction of costly regulations related to the monitoring of the location of waste storage and their allowed quantity overlapped with the pandemic. As a result of the economic downturn, prices for virgin packaging have dropped sharply, making them more cost-effective than deploying recycled plastic products. Manufacturers, in order to reduce operating costs, turned to the first, less ecological option.

ROP not only imposes on the producer of a given product responsibility for its further fate, after consumption, but also rewards those who use recyclate in their production - for new products that contain the recovered raw material, they pay lower fees when introducing them to the market. The ROP would increase the demand for recyclates.

According to Deloitte data, in our country (Poland), the introduction of one ton of plastic packaging to the market costs about EUR 0.6, in the Czech Republic EUR 206, in Spain - 377, and in Austria - EUR 610.

By Decision of the Council of the European Union No. 2020/2053 of December 14, 2020.The method of calculating the quantity produced and recycled is set out, on the basis of Directive 94/62 / EC, in the Council Regulation laying down implementing measures for the Decision. (SPR).