The Swedish government has approved plans to introduce a 75Kr (£6) per tonne tax on “waste that is burnt”, which will include refuse derived fuel (RDF) imported from the UK.
The tax was passed by the Swedish government on Wednesday, December 04, and will become effective from 1 April 2020.
Under the confirmed plans, the levy will then rise by a further 25 Kr (£2) in both 2021 and 2022 before the annual rise will be indexed after 2022.
Confirming the plans, a spokesperson for the Riksdag (Swedish parliament), said: “The Riksdag said yes to the government’s proposal for a new excise tax on waste that is burnt. The tax is introduced in order for Sweden to be able to achieve the national climate targets and to create a more resource-efficient and non-toxic waste management. The new law takes effect on 1 April , 2020.”
The UK exported around 750,000 tonnes of RDF to Sweden in 2018, making up around 50% of Sweden’s RDF imports.
Sweden is one of the major end markets for UK RDF, along with the Netherlands and Germany. However, the Dutch are also set to introduce a tax of around €30 from 01 January 2020, meaning cost pressures in these markets will increase.
The extent to which they will be passed on is still to be confirmed, but UK exporters are likely to face higher costs, especially to the Netherlands.
The Dutch Parliament is voting on the proposals on 17 December, and is being lobbied by the Dutch Waste Management Association, which represents the Dutch EfW sector.
The confirmed proposals which went before the Riksdag explained that the tax liability “shall enter when the waste is brought into the plant”, and was based on an agreement between the government, the Center Party and the Liberals.
The documents added: “The proposal has been met by criticism from several referral bodies. The majority of those [said] that a tax on waste is not an effective instrument to cost-effectively contribute to meet the climate, energy and waste policy objectives.
“This is because companies operating waste and co-incineration plants will not be able to transfer a waste incineration tax to the receiving fees, and thus a waste incineration tax will not receive the control requested.”
However, the Riksdag said that despite this, the tax is needed because by 2045, “Sweden should have no net greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere, and emissions from operations in Swedish territory should be at least 85 percent lower than the 1990 emissions”.
In a talk at the RDF Conference late last month, which was organised by letsrecycle.com, Göran Andersson, director at Swedish waste company F.H Bertling AB, explained that Sweden sends 48.5% of its waste for incineration, and recycled 50.8% in 2018, with less that 1% landfilled.
However, he explained that the country also imports around 1.5 million tonnes for incineration, mainly from the UK, Ireland and Norway.