Italy’s plastic tax postponed again under new budget plans

A customer uses plastic bags at a supermarket.
Italy will further delay the introduction of new measures aimed at combating plastic waste. Photo: Fred Dufour/AFP
A disputed plastic tax has been pushed back for the third time and now won't come into effect until 2023, the Italian government confirmed on Wednesday.

Italy’s planned plastic tax, which was created in 2020 and is intended to promote a reduction in the production and consumption of single-use plastics, has faced a series of delays with the government citing economic factors connected to the pandemic.

The tax on plastic was scheduled to come into force on July 1st this year, following a previous postponement from January of this year and July 2020 before that.

But the government stated on Wednesday that the tax will be delayed again until 2023 under the next budget law, while some parties continue to push to have it scrapped altogether.

A press release said the draft budget is intended to “sustain the economy in the exit phase of the pandemic and reinforce the rate of growth in the medium term”.

The postponement of plastic and sugar taxes to 2023 were among just a handful of measures agreed so far under the draft budget law, along with a cut in VAT on sanitary products.

The plastic tax would mean those who produce or buy plastic from other European countries or import single-use plastic items, known as ‘Macsi‘, faced a tax of 45 cents per kilogram of plastic product.

Products that contain recycled and biodegradable plastic and medical containers would be exempt from the levy.

READ ALSO:  What is Italy doing about the shocking level of plastic pollution on its coastline?

In May, the government cited economic pressure as the reason behind its decision to push the tax back.

Parties including the right-wing League continue to push for the measure to be scrapped altogether, saying it would be unafforable to businesses.

The postponement comes as a blow to environmental campaigners in Italy, who had hoped the recently implemented EU Directive on single-use plastics would push the government to tackle a worsening problem with plastic pollution particularly along the country’s coasts.

The amount of rubbish on Italy’s beaches has risen to over 400 pieces per 100 metres according to a recent study – one of the highest concentrations in Europe.

For now, there’s no news on how Italy plans to enforce the EU directive or sanction those failing to adhere to the new rules.


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