Lorax EPI

EPR fees, taxes and levies - what's the difference?

EPR fees, taxes and levies - what's the difference?
by Annis Mapleston at 12:43 in Circular Economy, Environmental

​Countries (and regions) around the world are considering how best to reduce packaging waste. Typically, they are applying one or more of three options: bans, EPR fees or taxes and ​levies. A ban is straight-forward enough, but what's the difference between EPR fees, taxes and the EU plastics levy?


EPR fees

A fee paid to cover the cost of waste management associated with products. Fees are increasingly modulated to take into account the environmental impact of the material​ (e.g. ease of recyclability).

EPR is widespread amongst EU markets in particular, with many other countries across the world also having EPR legislation. Some degree of eco-modulation can be found in many countries. Others have adopted a simpler form, charging the same fee for all plastics, all papers etc.​

Plastic taxes

Plastics taxes are usually based on the quantity of plastic packaging a company places on the market. They are typically paid directly to the national government via the tax system, rather than incorporated into the EPR system (although in some countries, such as Estonia, participation in an EPR scheme means companies qualify for an exemption from the tax).​ Many of the taxes currently in force (or due to come into force in the near future) offer exemptions or reductions for plastic packaging that incorporates recycled material, but do not consider whether the packaging is or is not recyclable.

EU plastics levy

A levy imposed by the EU on its Member States, relating to the quantity of plastic placed on the national market and national recycling rates. The levy is not charged directly to producers, but Member States may choose to pass on the cost (e.g. through a plastics tax). The levy will not be charged until all Member States have ratified it, but the cost will then be backdated to 1 January 2021.

If you would like any support in understanding the impact that EPR fees, taxes and levies might have on your business, please contact us to talk to one of our consultants.

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