Exploration of an improved methodology for the packaging tax

Discussion paper, with a report on the debate by the scientific panel

The rates employed in the Dutch packaging tax, introduced in 2008, are based on the lifecycle CO2 emissions of the packaging in question. An earlier study had shown that
CO2 emissions provide a good metric for the overall environmental impact of packaging. The CO2 indices were calculated for the Environment ministry by CE Delft in 2007 in dialogue with the industry. During that study it emerged that particularly with ‘biomaterials’ like paper and bioplastics, CO2 emissions no longer provide a full approximation of overall environmental performance. Land use and efficient use of biomass also merit inclusion in the methodology.

In the present study CE Delft elaborates and assesses six ways of improving the methodology. These were all discussed extensively with a scientific panel (CML, Ecofys, UU, WUR and CE Delft). The panel came to the unanimous conclusion that a calculation based on greenhouse gas emissions and total energy consumption (fossil and non-fossil) would provide a better as well more practical metric for setting packaging tax rates from 2010 onwards. At the end of 2008 the Environment ministry sent this brief report to Parliament, with a formal proposal to adopt this recommendation.  

discussion paper

Authors CE

Geert Bergsma
Matthijs Otten

Delft, April 2008