[STANCE] It’s better, but further improvements are needed. Additional WEI commentary on the Polish deposit return system

Doceniasz tę treść?

The government has announced amendments to the law on the deposit return system. The system is expected to make collecting and recycling beverage packaging more efficient. According to the Warsaw Enterprise Institute, the introduced Act needs to be improved, more so than the Ministry of Climate and Environment has announced so that the deposit system in Poland is environmentally efficient, economically fair, and does not harm the interests of consumers.

It is good that the environment ministry has finally taken seriously the voices of business indicating the need for changes to the deposit return system law. As a result of this dialogue, a deposit is finally supposed to follow packaging through the entire sales chain – from producer to consumer, and is to be exempted from VAT.  However, this is not enough to implement a fair and effective system in Poland.

The overarching goal of the deposit return system is to take care of the environment by reducing waste in landfills, public spaces and reducing CO2 emissions through the reuse of packaging or recyclate for packaging.  Implementing the deposit system is a process of increasing the collection and recycling of packaging waste in terms of single-use packaging and increasing the returnability and life cycle of reusable packaging. Unfortunately, the “Deposit System Act” currently does not guarantee that the required collection levels will be achieved and introduces unequal treatment of economic operators. It contains erroneous solutions regarding the amount of the product fee, which leads to inferior treatment of reusable packaging, the correct use of which significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

The Warsaw Enterprise Institute is concerned that the Act, in its current form, will not only fail to guarantee that the required collection levels will be achieved but will also cause difficulties in obtaining them. The beverage and retail industries will suffer because of the Act’s discriminatory nature. Efficient collection will not be possible due to the insufficient time to establish an operator that will collect significant volumes of packaging, creating a stable environment for both large and small beverage companies. The law discriminates against large beverage companies in their ability to quickly establish a system operator due to the need to obtain approval for market concentration. These companies currently have to wait for approval from the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection to establish a representative entity, i.e., a system operator, which can take up to six months. This does not give a realistic chance for these companies to launch their operator from January 1, 2025, operationally. This means that operators who will handle significant volumes of packaging in the deposit system are discriminated against in their ability to enter the market and perform their duties, relative to small and medium-sized operators who are not required to notify their intention to concentrate. This is an obvious barrier to market access for entrepreneurs who introduce the most significant volumes of packaging covered by the deposit system. To respect the principles of fair competition, we would like to postpone the obligation to collect packaging under the deposit system until January 1, 2026.

We are also concerned about the identical amount of the product charge, or penalty, that operators will be subject to for not collecting packaging for all types covered by the deposit system. The Minister of Climate and Environment is proposing a unified fee for each kilogram of packaging not collected under the deposit system, regardless of its type, thus ignoring the differences in its environmental impact. For every kilogram of packaging weight, there are three reusable glass bottles, about 30 plastic bottles, or about 50 beverage cans. This means that glass bottles, which litter the environment less, would be charged as much as their plastic counterparts or cans. As a result, producers of glass bottles, which are more environmentally friendly, would pay much more than those who use plastic packaging, for example. This contradicts the EU’s strategy to promote a longer life cycle for packaging and reduce waste through incentives for reusable packaging. The product fee should be differentiated, and the extent to which different types of packaging litter the environment should be considered.

The Warsaw Enterprise Institute believes the deposit system should be consumer-friendly and fair to businesses. We should rely on environmentally but also market-efficient measures rather than a system that randomly collects small amounts of beverage packaging without guaranteeing targets for collection rate. Poland’s deposit return system will be the second largest in Europe so far, so it is essential to prevent unreasonable costs discouraging consumers from making environmental efforts.

Inne wpisy tego autora

Participate in Freedom Fights 2024!

Top international speakers will participate in this year’s panel discussions at Freedom Fights 2024 in Warsaw! Freedom Fights 2024 is not just an event –