What is the packaging tax in the Netherlands and do I have to pay it?

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The Dutch government has a range of measures intended to help improve recycling and reduce packaging waste. One of these is the packaging waste management contribution. So what exactly does this levy entail and when do you have to pay it?

What is the packaging tax?

The packaging tax is actually a packaging waste management contribution (PWMC) which was introduced in 2008.

It is part of a series of measures taken by the Dutch government to improve waste management and to help reach recycling targets. If you are a producer or importer of packed products and bring more than 50,000 kilograms of packaging material into the Dutch market you have to pay this tax.

The tax is intended to cover the costs for the collection and processing of packaging waste. In particular, the main costs for collecting and processing material, getting guarantees from recycling companies that they will use the collected materials, and ‘system costs’ such as preventing litter, monitoring and other organisation costs. 

Who has to pay the packaging waste management contribution?

It is an ‘extended producer responsibility’ measure that follows the ‘polluter pays’ principle. This is part of the SUP legislation.

Producers and importers responsible for more than 50,000kg of packaging in any given calendar year.

Since January 1st 2018, foreign entrepreneurs who are first to make packaging products available to consumers in the Netherlands, must also pay.

The producer or importer can be the party who is first to make substances and products available in packaging, or who receives instructions from another to apply the name, logos or trademarks of another party on the packaging of substances and products.

For more on the definition of a producer or importer, read the full policy here. Page 7 has the full definition of a producer and importer for the purposes of this tax.

What is Extended Producer Responsibility?

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is a form of legislation whereby the producers are made responsible for the impacts of products they place on the market. In the case of the packaging tax, this means producers and importers are legally obliged to pay towards the prevention, collection and recycling of packaging.

In practice in the Netherlands, producers have four main responsibilities:

  • Register with the Afvalfonds Verpakkingen (if amount of packaging released is more than 50,000 kg per year) in order to pay the Packaging Waste Management Contribution

  • Record and account for packaging released onto the Dutch market

  • Meet the ‘essential requirements’ to maintain the necessary levels of safety, hygiene and acceptance

  • Meet the limits on heavy metal concentration levels in the packaging.

Find out more about the responsibilities here.

 

Packaging

What packaging does it cover?

The packaging waste management contribution covers most types of packaging.

This includes most glass, paper/cardboard, plastics, biodegradable plastics, aluminium and other metals, wood, and mixed materials, such as beverage cartons.

The full definition can be found here.

The definition starts with a clear summary:

“All products made of any materials of any nature to be used for the containment, protection, handling, delivery and presentation of goods, from raw materials to processed goods, from the producer to the user or the consumer, including ‘non-returnable’ items used for the same purposes.”

It does not cover logistic packaging, such as pallets, roller containers, jerry cans, crates with a capacity of 8 litres or more.

For the full list see here.

There are also some individual exemptions, including hypodermic syringes, non-refillable lighters, non-refillable pens, toner and ink cartridges, which are not considered packaging for the purposes of this tax.

Envelopes C5 and smaller are not considered as packaging.

You can use the packaging catalogue to find out if something is considered packaging or not.

 

bottles
The packaging tax includes materials from glass to aluminium to plastic.

How much do I have to pay?

This depends on the material and type of packaging—whether it is retail, collection or shipping packaging. 

For reusable packaging, you pay a one-off contribution. 

For packaging that can’t be reused you pay a fee per kilogram of packaging material.

Find the full details of the rates here.

If you export packaging, but the fee has already been paid earlier in the chain, you can request a refund for indirect export. 

If you bring more than 50,000kg of packaging in any given calendar year onto the Dutch market, then you must register with the Packaging Waste Fund (Afvalfonds Verpakkingen)

You can register here

  

Could I end up with a fine?

Yes, paying the contribution is a legal requirement. If you are eligible to pay, but you fail to do so, you could end up with a fine. If you have any doubts about whether you have to pay check out this website or reach out to one of our team. 

We’d be happy to help with any questions you have and help you navigate the packaging tax. Additionally if you’re curious about a product and whether it’s included in the PWMC, feel free to get in touch and we’ll help you find out.

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Francisco Morcillo

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