Latvia for two years has been paying EUR 15 million to EU for insufficient recycling of plastic waste

  • 2023-03-13
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - Latvia for two years already has been paying EUR 15 million to the EU for insufficient recycling of plastic waste, Latvian commercial TV3 television's analytical news program Neka Personiga (Nothing Personal) reported on Sunday.

For two years already Latvia is paying considerable sums from the state budget to the EU for unrecycled plastic. This payment, in fact, should come from manufacturers who choose to use such materials in their products, but attempts to move this payment to business have been halted twice already.

Starting from 2021, EU member states should pay into the EU budget for each kilogram of unrecycled plastic. The payment for Latvia had been calculated at EUR 20 million, but as it may not exceed a certain share of the gross domestic product (GDP), the payment has been reduced to EUR 14.8 million. For 2022, Latvia has to pay EUR 15.3 million.

Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry's representative Rudite Vesere explained that it is not a fine, but a payment into the EU budget - EUR 0.8 for every kilogram of unrecycled plastic waste.

Countries were aware of the planned payment ahead and had time to develop their own systems how to collect this money from those who import or produce goods with unrecyclable packaging. Latvia has not developed such system and is making payments from the state budget. Vesere noted that manufacturers are not motivated to change anything in their packaging because they do not have to pay for it, the money comes from all tax payers' pockets.

The ministry in 2021 prepared legislative amendments to the law on natural resource tax, but they did not move forward. The system was not introduced in 2021 because the Cabinet of Ministers was against any new tax changes during the pandemic. Ex-minister Arturs Toms Pless (For Development/For) blames Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins (New Unity) for it. There had been a similar discussion in 2019, but then manufacturers protested because of the upcoming deposit system which already was an additional burden on them.

Now the Finance Ministry objects to such changed, wishing to develop the tax guidelines for the coming three years first. Seeing that the amendments might be halted for the third time, waste management companies have addressed the Saeima lawmakers to push the legislative amendments forward.

Latvijas Zalais Punkts (Latvian Green Dot) board chairman Janis Aizbalts said that it is not right to pay this sum from the state budget as the potential creator of the waste should cover these costs.

Starting from 2035, only 10 percent of all waste can be deposited in landfills, the rest will have to be recycled or transferred into energy. Sorting of organic waste promises a breakthrough as it can be transformed into biogas, compost, reducing the amount of household waste by half. The EU has ordered member states to introduce the system by the end of this year, but Latvia, most believably, will not able to do it. The State Audit System has already warned that this will mean additional EUR 11 million in fines every year.