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Spain’s tax on non-reusable plastic packaging: requirements for companies

Spain's tax on non-reusable plastic packaging: requirements for companies

Did you know that according to Greenpeace, 500 million plastic bottles are produced every year, or that in Spain 50% of packaging ends up in landfills? We have all heard about recycling, the elimination of single-use plastics and the circular economy, but the truth is that there is still a long way to go. Spain has taken a step forward in this regard with the special tax on non-reusable plastic packaging. Let’s see together all the details in this article.

The new regulation seeks to encourage companies to opt for more sustainable alternatives and, in turn, to reduce the plastic pollution that affects our ecosystems so much. It is a piece of legislation that brings benefits but has also been criticised as it leads to price increases that are passed on to consumers.

What is the Non-Reusable Plastic Packaging Tax in Spain?

The definition of the tax is found in Article 67 of Law 7/2022 of 8 April on waste and contaminated land for a circular economy, which states the following:

  1. The special tax on non-reusable plastic packaging is an indirect tax levied on the use, in the territory of application of the tax, of non-reusable packaging containing plastic, whether it is empty, or whether it is presented containing, protecting, handling, distributing and presenting goods.
  2. The purpose of the tax is to encourage the prevention of the generation of non-reusable plastic packaging waste, as well as to encourage the recycling of plastic waste, contributing to the circularity of this material.

Law 7/2022 is a reflection of the government’s efforts to address the plastic issue, following European recommendations and studies that highlight the urgency of implementing effective measures in plastic waste management.

Which products are affected by the Non-Reusable Plastic Packaging Tax?

The tax applies to:

  • Non-reusable packaging containing plastic.
  • Semi-finished plastic products intended for the production of the abovementioned packaging, such as preforms or thermoplastic sheeting.
  • Products which are composed of several materials and contain plastic. In this case, the tax will be applied according to the proportion of plastic.

The law also regulates some exceptions such as those relating to medical devices, pre-prepared food for special medical purposes, infant formulas for hospital use or hazardous waste of medical origin.

What does the Plastic Law mean for businesses?

The plastic tax has various effects on organisations. Firstly, we must be clear that the companies affected by the tax are companies that carry out the manufacture, importation or intra-Community acquisition of the products regulated by the law. These companies must:

  • Register in the territorial tax register corresponding to their tax domicile.
  • Payment of the tax. The tax rate is 0.45 euros per kilogram of non-reusable plastic. The form to be used is 592.
  • Modification of their processes. This means that companies of all sizes need to adjust their processes and supply chain to minimise or avoid the tax burdens of this tax and reduce the use of single-use plastics.
  • Potential increase in administrative burden. Small businesses, in particular, may see an increase in the amount of paperwork they have to carry out in relation to the tax and the calculation of the tax base.
  • Boosting CSR. On the other hand, companies will have the opportunity to boost their corporate social responsibility in relation to environmental care, as the tax is expected to significantly reduce plastic waste and pollution, while encouraging responsible consumption practices.
  • Research development. The new tax framework incentivises research and development of biodegradable and compostable alternatives. This presents an opportunity for startups and technology companies seeking to capitalise on the transition to a greener economy.

Can penalties be imposed?

Some companies see this tax as a challenge and others see it as an opportunity to innovate and lead the way in creating sustainable packaging. However, it is important to note that the law provides for various penalties for non-compliance with the obligations. These are as follows:

  • Failure to register in the relevant register may result in a penalty of 1,000 euros.
  • The issuing of a false or incorrect certificate by a certifying body: a fine of 50% to 75% of the tax that should have been paid. The minimum fine is 1,000 euros.
  • Where exemptions are improperly applied, the fine is 150% of the tax benefit obtained. The minimum fine is €1,000.

What role does Ecoembes play?

Ecoembes, the organisation in charge of the management of recyclable waste in Spain, plays an important role in the implementation of this tax, not only in terms of coordination, but also in educating and raising awareness of recycling among businesses and consumers.

Current waste legislation requires companies responsible for bringing household packaging onto the market to account for this waste. Every year, before 28 February, companies must submit a Packaging Declaration to the Extended Collective Producer Responsibility System (SCRAP), to Ecoembes. This declaration must contain details of the packaging distributed during the previous year.

To ensure compliance with the obligation and the correctness of the data provided, Ecoembes has developed control mechanisms and provides assistance to companies in the declaration process.

As a consequence of all of the above, companies must be aware of the specific regulations to avoid sanctions and, above all, to be able to promote innovative solutions to reduce the use of plastics.

If your company needs help with this type of procedure, contact our business consultancy and we will advise you according to your circumstances.

Business advice and representation services in relation to plastics taxation

In a context where legislation on plastic waste is becoming increasingly stringent, having an expert partner in legal and fiscal matters becomes a necessity for companies, especially those with international operations. If you are a foreign company operating in Spain and need assistance with the legal and tax representation service for the registration and reporting of packaging at Ecoembes, we are here to help. Our team of consultants specialised in business law is ready to give you the support you need to comply with these legal obligations efficiently and smoothly. Contact us today and let us be your partner in this process.

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