CEO and founder of Archweythe holding group of three companies that is changing the game when it comes to recycling and reducing plastic waste.
Global plastic taxes are: here, finally shifting responsibility for virgin plastic waste from the consumer to the actual producers. Earlier this year, the state of California and the British government implemented major plastic packaging reforms. All business owners in consumer-oriented sectors need a wake-up call about the impact of plastic taxes on our businesses.
Key factors forcing imminent international action against plastic taxes include: the excessive social and economic costs of dealing with plastic wastegrowing public awareness about sustainability, a better understanding of the relationship between plastic waste and climate change, stark scientific predictions about the future of the planet and recent extreme weather events.
Finally, this new plastic tax law is forcing virgin plastic producers to pay for the waste they create. It will help curb pollution and drive behavior change, as well as permanently change countries’ recycling infrastructures (a major cause of the plastic waste epidemic). Taxation will hopefully succeed where ethical responsibility has failed, leading to essential change in the way we interact with plastics.
As an entrepreneur and activist against single-use plastics, I support the plastic tax legislation on new plastics. But tax laws are notoriously complicated and complicated, and unfortunately there is currently a distinct lack of global coordination in implementation. While it may be tempting to pray that the end of the world will come for the taxman, the only way to future-proof your business and embrace the new era of plastic tax law is to act now and act decisively.
Here are four steps for business owners to help us navigate the most important changes and challenges ahead.
Prioritize internal education about existing and future plastic taxes
Start educating employees now, instead of catching up. Plastic taxes add a levy to all new plastic produced and contain less than a certain amount of recycled materials. Still, the criteria vary widely from country to country (and even state to state), with entire regions subject to additional overarching regulations. For example, the British government has charged companies since April 2022 £200 per tonne of plastic that does not contain at least 30% recycled materials, while in California65% of plastic packaging must be recyclable by 2032. In the EU, the Green Deal requires “contributions” from Member States based on the amount of non-recycled plastic packaging waste produced by each Member, and also invites Members to implement individual legislation according to their own parameters.
Confused? You will be. The UN is currently working on a legally binding global Resolution “End plastic pollution” which will set rules for the production, use and disposal of new and single-use plastics, to be signed by all UN members by the end of 2024.
As business leaders, it is our responsibility to ensure that this ever-changing tax landscape is continuously monitored and understood by all stakeholders.
Initiating supply chain and operational data tracking
Trusting your supply chain data is essential for navigating the impact of any legislation. Start those dialogues now, or seek external advice on safeguarding the value chain. Such as the May 2022 report on the tax on plastic packaging by Deloitte states: “The operational nature of the tax means that a cross-functional effort is often required to manage compliance obligations.” Use your data to create a “data structure” that summarizes the legislation in each relevant region, and you’ll have an overview of where you are currently in each location to use as a starting point to plan ahead.
Research alternative, sustainable materials
If you trade in plastics, start incorporating recycled materials into your processes. Look at the myriad options of viable, sustainable, cost effective and recyclable GRS certified available products and raw materials.
Managing budgets and projected costs – from estimating fees for non-recycled content to urgently switching suppliers – is easy once you understand the realities of the renewable materials market and can compare it to the costs of the renewables market. new plastics (including the shadow costsi.e. the lifetime costs of plastic for society, the environment and the economy).
Launch a pilot program
Identify a business area in which to launch a pilot project that complies with upcoming legislation and use it as a blueprint to roll out the business broadly, depending on the regional differences outlined in your new data structure. Introduce due diligence processes within this pilot and identify stakeholders who can provide relevant support. This trial will be helpful not only in identifying key areas for development and impact, but also in determining likely future costs and savings. It is also a signal to employees and stakeholders, but also to customers, that you take this seriously and navigate carefully.
While the sheer size of the legislation and the speed with which it is being implemented may seem overwhelming, I believe this is a hugely positive development for everyone on the planet. It will not only reduce plastic pollution, allow biodiversity to recover, reduce the impact of microplastics (which are now even in human breast milk and blood), and contribute to a reduction in global carbon emissions, but it will also force an upgrade of recycling services and infrastructure that are not fit for purpose. Yes, in the short term, future-proofing your business against plastic taxes can take time, energy and even some money, but in the long run it will save all three.