Since 2021, laws have been established within the EU internal market to regulate the import and usage of standardized single-use plastic products. However, the implementation of these laws has not been consistent across all member states. Following the lead of France and Spain, Italy has now taken steps to introduce its own regulations in this regard.
As of July 3, 2021, the deadline for transposing Articles 4 and 5 of the EU Plastics Directive has expired. These regulations aimed at ensuring the smooth flow of goods within the internal market have faced challenges due to the cautious approach of the EU Commission and ongoing debates. Consequently, an increasing number of countries have enacted their own distinct regulations, leading to a lack of uniformity.
Is there a plastic tax in Italy 2023?
Italy delayed the enforcement of a tax on single-use manufactured products (or MACSI), initially set to take effect from 1 January 2023. However, they postponed it again, now planning to enforce it in 2024. The actual enforcement date remains unclear.
The tax aims to reduce the production and use of single-use plastics and to promote the search for less harmful alternatives in the context of the European Strategy for plastics in the circular economy.
What is the Price of Italy’s Plastic Packaging Tax?
The tax amount levied is €0.45 per kilogram of virgin plastic content in the products. It’s important to note that the tax does not apply to plastic material derived from recycling processes.
What can be Taxed?
Products subject to tax include those partially or entirely made of synthetic organic polymers. These products, not meant for reuse, serve to enclose, protect, or supply goods or food items. Examples of such products include bottles, bags, and food containers. However, products intended for long-term use, as well as medical devices or containers used for storing and protecting medical preparations, are exempt from the tax. Furthermore, the tax doesn’t apply to compostable plastics that meet the standards set out in DIN EN 13432. It’s worth noting that the tax does not apply to plastic materials derived from recycling processes.
Who can be Taxed?
As for the taxable person, distinctions depend on the manufacturing process and import country. If someone manufactures goods within Italy, or the manufacturer resides in Italy, then that manufacturer bears the responsibility for paying the tax. However, when it comes to imports from other EU member states, the tax liability varies depending on the purpose of the products. If companies acquire the products for their economic activities, they are responsible for paying the tax. On the other hand, if private end users purchase the products, the seller takes on the tax responsibility. For goods imported from non-EU countries, the importer is always liable for paying the tax.
What has been the Effect on the Market?
Following the announcement of the upcoming plastic tax, Italy’s packaging industry has undergone some notable changes. Many manufacturers are now seeking ways to reduce their reliance on virgin plastics and increase their use of recycled and alternative materials. This has led to an increase in demand for these materials, driving up their prices in the market.
One of the main criticisms of the plastic tax is its potential to adversely affect small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which may lack the resources to switch to more sustainable alternatives or absorb the additional costs. According to a study by the Italian Institute for Political, Economic, and Social Studies (Eurispes), around 60% of Italian SMEs expressed concerns about the financial impact of the new tax.
Moreover, it’s feared that the tax might lead to price increases for consumers, as businesses may pass on the additional costs to them. In the European Union, it’s estimated that over 40% of plastic is used for packaging, so any significant changes in this sector could have widespread effects.
How Does Italy Compare to Other EU Countries?
As per the latest data from the European Statistical Office (Eurostat), Italy was one of the leading producers of plastic waste in the EU, with around 2.8 million tonnes of plastic waste generated in 2020. This puts Italy behind only Germany (3.2 million tonnes) and the United Kingdom (3.0 million tonnes). The introduction of the plastic tax can therefore be seen as a much-needed step towards reducing plastic waste in the country.
Many EU countries have already taken steps to regulate the use of single-use plastics and promote a circular economy. France, for example, has introduced a general tax on non-recyclable plastics, while Spain has established a tax on non-reusable plastic containers. On the other hand, countries like Germany and the Netherlands have chosen to focus on deposit return schemes and producer responsibility obligations rather than taxation.
Looking ahead, Italy’s plastic tax is expected to play a key role in shaping the future of the country’s packaging industry and promoting sustainability. While the tax has faced some criticism and resistance, it has also spurred innovation and given rise to new business opportunities in the field of sustainable packaging. As such, despite the short-term challenges, the long-term benefits of the tax could be significant, contributing to the country’s efforts to achieve a circular economy and meet its environmental targets.
In Italy, the government planned to enforce a tax on single-use manufactured products (also known as MACSI) from 1 January 2023, but they delayed it again, possibly to 2024. We still don’t know the actual enforcement date.
The goal of this tax is to decrease the production and consumption of single-use plastics, incentivizing the exploration of less environmentally harmful alternatives. This falls in line with the European Strategy for plastics in a circular economy.
As for the tax amount, Italy has set a rate of €0.45 per kilogram of virgin plastic content in products. The tax, however, does not apply to plastic materials produced through recycling.
The products subject to this tax comprise those partially or entirely composed of synthetic organic polymers and used primarily for packaging. Examples include bottles, bags, and food containers. Exemptions from this tax apply to products intended for long-term use, medical devices, containers used for storing and protecting medical supplies, and compostable plastics complying with DIN EN 13432 standards.
If manufacturers produce the products within Italy or if they’re based in Italy, they bear the responsibility of paying the tax.
In case of imports from other EU countries, the tax liability falls on the companies if they purchase the products for economic activities, whereas the seller is responsible if private end users buy the products. For goods imported from non-EU countries, the importer is always liable for the tax.
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