Group Launches Dutch Waste Import Tax Briefing Note

The RDF Industry Group has called on the Dutch government to rescind its announcement of a tax of €32 per tonne of waste imported from 1st January 2020.

The Group details the arguments against the waste import tax in its new publication: Impacts of the Dutch Waste Import Tax . The Group is warning that there is a significant lack of evidence on which the proposals are based, inadvertently causing an increase in carbon emissions.

The introduction of the measure follows the loss of a court case brought by Urgenda in 2015, after which the Dutch government is forced to take more measures to tackle climate change. The briefing note makes the argument that instead of helping to achieve a reduction in CO2e emissions, these proposals will divert waste back to landfill, thereby increasing CO2e emissions overall. As a key off-taker of waste, the Netherlands plays a pivotal role in the integrated waste market across Northern Europe, helping the UK and ROI save 370,000 tonnes CO2e through exports of RDF (in 2018). This waste will be diverted back to landfill in the UK due to the lack of facilities to treat residual waste domestically if export becomes less economically viable as a result of import taxes.

Robert Corijn, Chair of the RDF Industry Group said:

“It is not effective for the Dutch government to be undermining wider attempts to reduce carbon emissions by not taking into account the significant leakage effects that the proposed waste import tax will have. There are European-wide targets for carbon reduction and the perverse effects of diverting waste from combined heat and power to landfill is of major concern for those nations which export waste.

We are also concerned about the wider negative impacts of the proposed tax. Reducing the feedstock available to Dutch energy-from-waste facilities will increase competition for residual waste, and any potential reduction of gate fees as a result of this would only serve to undermine the economics of recycling. If Dutch facilities have to bear the cost of this tax, then this will put jobs on the line and facilities at risk of unnecessary closure.”

Having already argued for a Europe-wide reduction of 55% GHG emissions by 2020, the Dutch government stands to displace its own emissions by imposing such measures to the UK and ROI. The Group’s analysis shows that for every tonne of waste diverted back to UK landfill, an additional 261kg CO2e will be emitted, which is the equivalent to the emissions from running ten lightbulbs for a full year.

The new publication Impacts of the Dutch Waste Import Tax is available to download for free here.