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May 8, 2023
Poland's implementation of the Single-Use-Plastics Directive getting closer
Almost two years beyond deadline, the Polish legislative process has been completed for implementing the Single-Use-Plastics (SUP) Directive — legislation amending laws governing certain waste management, product fees and certain other acts.
The new rules implemented under the SUP Directive will mainly concern businesses that sell, or use in their businesses, certain types of packaging, as well as the products in such packaging.
The Act bans the introduction of certain single-use plastic products on the market. These include plastic plates and cutlery, straws and beverage stirrers, sticks attached to balloons, cotton bud sticks, food and beverage containers and beverage cups made of expanded polystyrene, including their covers and lids, and all products made of oxo-degradable plastics.
The Act also introduces a requirement to display information on the appropriate management or disposal methods for waste arising from certain products, as well as on the presence of plastics in these products and the resulting negative impact on the environment. This applies to products such as sanitary pads, tampons and their applicators, wet wipes, tobacco products with filters containing plastic and beverage cups. The requirements and designs of the relevant labels are set out in the Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/2151 of 17 December 2020.
The new law will affect, in part, businesses that were not previously obliged to manage the waste generated from their products. The first step to complying with the new law in 2023 will be to submit an application to the register in the Database on Products and Packaging and Waste Management (BDO). Registered businesses, on the other hand, will have to submit an updated application in which they declare placing on the market products covered by the new regulations.
As part of reducing the amount of discarded plastic waste, the Act also envisages ensuring a high level of plastic bottle collection and stimulating demand for recycled plastics by specifying a minimum recycled material content in new products. Annual levels for separate collection of single-use plastic bottles that producers of beverages sold in such packaging must achieve will be 77% from 2025 and 90% from 2029. From 2025, single-use plastic bottles are required to contain 25% recyclate, with 30% from 2030.
The legislation also aims to introduce measures to inform consumers on, among other things, the availability of suitable and more-sustainable alternative products, including reusable products, and proper waste management — in line with the waste hierarchy and the environmental impact of littering and inappropriate handling of waste.
The amendment introduces fees — a maximum of 1 PLN (Polish Zloty) — for certain single-use products that will be dispensed to customers, such as food or beverage packaging. The fees will be added to the price of the product. However, at the same time, businesses will be obliged to provide customers with an alternative in the form of either reusable packaging or packaging made of biodegradable material. Revenue from the fees will be allocated to cover the costs of managing the waste generated from the regulated packaging. Details will be specified in the relevant regulation to the Act.
In accordance with the Extended Producer Responsibility, producers will also incur costs for introducing single-use plastic products into the market. Maximum fee rates will be 0,2 PLN per kg or 0,03 PLN per unit of product placed on the market. The final rates will be determined by regulation. Companies placing SUP products on the market will also incur fees to fund educational campaigns related to limiting the use of plastic products.
The new fees are commonly known as a "plastic tax"; its collection will be conducted under Tax Ordinance regime. Businesses selling food for takeaway will need to take particular care in a process of registering the plastic tax for VAT (and other) purposes, which in part includes using proper VAT rates.
The Act contains penal provisions for noncompliance, as well as provisions specifying the amount of administrative fines that may be imposed on operators.
For example, the penalty for placing cups on the market in 2024 without a mandatory pictogram warning against improperly discarding them in the environment could amount to up to PLN 20,000. Introducing a banned single-use plastic product on the market can result in a fine of up to PLN 0.5 million.
The Act has been passed by the Parliament and is now awaiting the President's signature. Despite that implementation of the legislation has been considerably delayed and its content has been modified during the delay, it can be expected that the Act will soon enter into force. Thus, it is fundamental for businesses to prepare in time to comply with new requirements. As the requirements under the new law may need to be addressed by different divisions in each organization (i.e., financial/tax team, procurement, logistics department), some businesses may find it reasonable to appoint one person responsible for coordinating implementation or even to engage an external project manager.
For additional information with respect to this Alert, please contact the following:
EY Doradztwo Podatkowe Krupa sp.k., Warsaw
Published by NTD’s Tax Technical Knowledge Services group; Carolyn Wright, legal editor