Environmental indices for the Dutch packaging tax

On 1 January 2008 a packaging tax is to be introduced in the Netherlands. In line with wider government policy objectives, tariffs for the new tax are to be indexed to the environmental burden of the packaging material in question. In an earlier study, CE Delft concluded that the climate impact of the packaging chain (cradle to grave) is a good and relatively simple measure of overall environmental impact. This report examines existing data on the greenhouse gas emissions of the various packaging materials in each of the key steps of the chain: raw materials extraction, primary materials production, packaging shaping, recycling and waste disposal. In discussion with the packaging materials industry, environmental indices for the various materials have been established which in CE�s assessment can serve as a reasonably robust ranking basis for introducing a packaging charge in the short term, in 2008. For the 2009 tax year it is recommended to refine the ranking by:

  • Incorporating environmental differences in the use phase between different types of packaging (in particular, differences in product spoilage and cooling requirements).
  • Incorporating additional environmental themes (particularly land use and biodiversity), especially to improve coverage of paper recycling.
  • Incorporating differences between production sites (primary production and shaping) in more detail, as well as environmental differences between sites.
  • Further refinement of tariffs for specific submaterials (individual grades of cardboard and plastics) and incorporation of current recycling rates.

After this date, an update every two years would be useful to encourage ongoing innovation.