The Netherlands’ waste import tax puts pressure on local government waste strategies in the UK

Energy from Waste
Eilish Rafferty
January 21, 2020

The Dutch government recently voted through a controversial waste import tax on waste that is destined for Dutch energy-from-waste plants. The Dutch Government estimates that as much as 25% of the waste processed in the country’s EfW plants comes from outside the country.

Pending the outcome of a legal challenge, the €31-per-tonne tax will be introduced on all waste imports to the country from the start of next year. The Netherlands’ energy recovery sector is concerned that the tax will “force waste down the hierarchy into landfill.”

The RDF Industry Group brings together organisations from across the European RDF supply chain and its chair, Robert Corijn said, “We are especially concerned that the Dutch government has not conducted a full impact assessment of this policy.” He added that the RDF Industry group is supportive of the motion also passed in the Dutch parliament stipulating that the effect of the waste import tax must be monitored.

The Dutch Waste Management Association had proposed alternative measures that it claimed would deliver the desired reduction in domestic emissions without displacing them elsewhere in Europe. The Dutch government has committed to consider the proposal.

Corijn further explained that the tax had already pushed UK local authority Essex County Council to landfill waste that it would have previously exported.

The Environmental Services Association (ESA), which represents UK waste management businesses, wrote last summer to Dutch MPs to express its concerns at the proposed tax. It described the measure as potentially ‘crippling’ to the UK waste management industry.

The Netherlands joins Sweden in imposing a tax on waste imports. These two countries were the UK’s first and second biggest markets for waste exports respectively.

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