From next year, for every kilogram of plastic packaging that ends up in landfills, and not recycled, each EU Member State will have to pay 80 cents to the EU budget. According to the latest estimates by the Ministry of the Environment, Czechia might have to pay about 83 million euros, despite recycling three-quarters of produced plastics.
The Union wants discarded packaging to be re-used. It doesn’t matter if it is PET bottles, which are generally recycled the most, or biscuit packaging, which the recycling lines have ignored so far. Each state will pay based on how much of this waste is produced and eventually recycled.
So far, these fees are the only new direct source of funding that European leaders agreed on at the end of July during a meeting on the EU budget and a recovery plan to help kick-start the European economy after the coronavirus pandemic. New measure proceeds from a two-year-old proposal are primarily another way of how to motivate states and therefore manufacturers to recycle plastic products.
According to data of the packaging company Eko-Kom, which operates a Czech nationwide waste separation system, 252,000 tons of disposable plastic packaging was produced for the Czech market last year. Of this, 173,000 tons were recycled.
“Thus, the recycling rate reached 69 percent in 2019,” said Lucie Müllerová, a spokeswoman for the company.
The fees are not to be paid by plastic producers, but by individual member states. According to Jaroslav Hanák, President of the Confederation of Industry of the Czech Republic, the impact on the manufacturer of plastic packaging is theoretically zero so far. “We perceive the European Council’s agreement on the EU budget as an acceptable compromise,” said Hanák.
New source of EU funding should not harm the Czech budget
“The fee should not fall on taxpayers,” promised the Environment Minister Richard Brabec. “We will have one of the lowest fees because we have a relatively high rate of plastics recycling,” he added.
The Ministry of Finance is also convinced that the new source of EU funding will not harm the Czech state budget. Alongside the introduction of this resource, the membership fees of the EU member states will decrease. “Specifically, levies on gross national income,” noted Zdeněk Vojtěch from the press department of the Ministry of Finance.
Moreover, the Ministry of the Environment expects Czechia to be one of the countries with a capped fee. “This correction mechanism will be applied to countries with a gross national income lower than the EU average in 2017. Otherwise, the Czech Republic would pay 115 million euros,” said Dominika Pospíšilová from the ministry’s press department.
The introduction of fees is expected from January next year and is yet to be approved by the European Parliament and the Council of the EU. However, the European Commission has not yet revealed a specific formula for calculating fees.
Title image: A white heron stands between discarded plastic bottles and other waste on the bank of the river Sava on World Environment Day, in Belgrade, Serbia, Friday, June 5, 2020. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)