Rocked Buzz

Breaking News & Social Content Platform


Video ⟩ Latvia does not sufficiently process plastic waste. For the second year already, 15 million euros must be paid from the budget to the European Union

For two years now, Latvia has been paying the European Union (EU) significant sums from the state budget for unprocessed plastic. This payment should come from manufacturers and traders who choose which materials to use in their products and their packaging. However, attempts to impose such an obligation on businessmen have already been slowed down twice, reports the TV3 program “Neka persigina”.

Photo: Screenshot from the video

For two years now, Latvia has been paying the European Union (EU) significant sums from the state budget for unprocessed plastic. This payment should come from manufacturers and traders who choose which materials to use in their products and their packaging. However, attempts to impose such an obligation on businessmen have already been slowed down twice, reports the TV3 program “Neka persigina”.

Starting from 2021, the EU is a new source for supplementing the budget. Member States have to pay a fee for every kilogram of non-recycled plastic in waste.

20 million euros were calculated for Latvia in the first year. The payment must not exceed a certain percentage of the total national economy, so it was reduced to 14.8 million. In 2022, the forecasted amount with the entire discount was 15.3 million euros.

The Director of the Defense Department of the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development (VARAM) Rudīte Vesere states: “It is not a penalty, and this is the main thing I would like to say, because everyone always perceives it – we pay a penalty, it is not a penalty. The payment is related to the recycled plastic packaging – or non-recycled, to be more precise. For each kilogram of non-recycled plastic packaging, 80 euro cents must be paid in the total EU budget.”

The countries knew about the upcoming payment and were able to create their systems in time to collect money from those who import or produce goods with non-recyclable packaging. In Latvia, the system has not been established and payment for unprocessed plastic is covered from the state budget.

“The manufacturer is currently not very motivated to change anything in their approach and choices regarding packaging, because they don’t have any at the moment [jāmaksā]it is paid by all taxpayers,” says Vesere.

“What VARAM sees as a potential solution and already developed in 2021 are the amendments to the Natural Resources Tax Law. Unfortunately, the amendments were never pushed forward, they [Ministru] were suspended in the cabinet and have not yet been adopted. They provided that this amount – 80 cents per unprocessed kilogram – should be paid by the producers themselves, that is, by those who use such packaging, and not only by producers in Latvia, but also by traders who import goods in such packaging.”

In 2021, the system was not implemented because the Cabinet of Ministers was of the opinion that no new taxes would be introduced during the pandemic and existing ones would not be raised. The responsible minister of that time, Artūrs Toms Pleš, blames the prime minister. The same discussion was already in 2019. Then the producers argued that they would already have one burden – the introduction of a deposit for bottles and cans. Politicians gave in to them.

Ināra Šure, head of the Federation of Latvian Food Companies, says: “The manufacturers’ position is that, without a doubt, imposing another burden is a burden, but on the other hand, we are socially and ecologically responsible and understand that we have to move away from non-recyclable plastic, we have to go to recyclable . This should be done from 2025 – so that manufacturers can prepare, because the transition to more environmentally friendly packaging, however, takes investment and time.”

Now the Ministry of Finance also opposes the changes. It wants to wait for tax guidelines for the next three years. Seeing that the amendments are stuck for the third time, the waste managers have called on the members of the Saeima to take action and push the amendments to the law themselves.

Jānis Aizbalts, chairman of the board of SIA “Latvijas zaļais punkts”, states: “We believe that this is not correct. Like any tax related to natural pollution and sorting, the European regulation also stipulates that the polluter pays. Therefore, you pay , when buying a product and when using a product.Only the person who uses the product, the potential generator of waste, pays.

You can’t impose this as a payment from the state budget, because then everyone pays, including those who can’t afford new goods, who don’t go to the store that often.”

Latvia creates its waste sorting and recycling policy with the help of natural resources tax. It is paid both for environmental pollution and the first registration of a car, as well as for the use of water in hydroelectric power plants. Also for the packaging of goods, but the amount collected in this section does not even reach a million euros per year.

In reality, the calculated amount of natural resource tax that producers should pay is many times higher – it is approaching 300 million euros per year. For the most part, entrepreneurs are exempted because they participate in producer responsibility systems. They ensure the collection and processing of sorted waste. Judging by the turnover of producers’ responsibility systems, companies contribute about 30 million euros to them annually, thereby freeing themselves from the obligation to pay natural resources tax.

Elita Baklāne-Ansberga, director general of the State Environmental Service (VVD), states: “Natural resource tax rates are a financial instrument, it is not a calculation of exactly what the damage to nature is. To promote the fact that companies are involved in producer responsibility, so that it is more profitable than paying the tax. The responsibility of the manufacturer is not only for the quality of the product until the product is sold, but actually until the end of the product’s life cycle, when the product turns into waste. The life cycle ends when the product has been recycled into new materials as far as possible.”

Producer responsibility systems ensure that packaging is sorted, for example by paying for the placement of plastic, cardboard and glass containers near shops and apartment buildings and the collection of this waste. Next, they coordinate so that a certain part of the collected packaging is recycled. One such producer responsibility system is “Latvijas zaļais punkts”, which claims that it could already recycle much more. Now it is not done because it is not profitable to collect and recycle all plastic. Some materials require a fee to be accepted by factories.

Aizbalts points out: “We also pay a plastic fee for foam plastic. We are the only ones in Latvia who collect it, bale it and take it for recycling. All the rest of the foam plastic is in the trash, and then the tax. But if it was green money, I think we would would no longer be the sole operator.”

In places where the worthless packaging cannot be recycled even into fuel, it is simply dumped in landfills. If producers were made to pay extra and higher targets were set for exemption from natural resource tax, then it would pay off to send them for processing. In addition, it would also be an incentive to switch to, if not environmentally friendly, then at least recyclable materials in packaging.

Through regulations, the state instructs manufacturers to recycle a certain percentage of waste. The task is not particularly ambitious and does not contribute to the overall development of the industry.

Aizbalts says: “The estimate of 20 million is the first step that we have been receiving for two years.

But it is quite safe to say that if we do not start doing something, Latvia will have to pay one, two years and fines with much larger numbers, and they will already be related to the fact that all sorting will simply not be ready.

We all have a common goal this year to recycle 50% of all plastic put on the market and another 20% we can send to recovery for energy recovery. We aim to collect only seven out of ten kilograms of plastic from the country. The state immediately realizes that for three kilograms [no katriem desmit] will pay this penalty, which in the end is the 20 million. If some system thinks – I will be so good and start collecting not seven, but eight, collecting and processing it also costs money. How will we be able to compete with each other as systems, if one thinks that he will start filling the plans instead of the state.”

In 2035, only 10% of all waste will be allowed to be stored in landfills. The rest will have to be recycled or converted into energy. Sorting biological waste promises the biggest breakthrough.

They can be turned into biogas and compost and cut household waste almost in half. The EU has instructed the member states to implement the system by the end of this year, it will most likely not succeed in Latvia. The State Audit Office (VK) warns that it threatens with new annual fines of 11 million euros.

VK council member Edgars Korchagins points out: “One of the elements of the system that was well done and is in the process of being built is the construction of biodegradable waste facilities. Namely, the first one has been working in Gatliņi for some time, and in other waste processing regions they are also being built for very large money. The capacities for these facilities are planned in our view very, very optimistically, and could be as much as two to three times greater than the actual amount of biodegradable waste.”

The equipment was purchased with the funds of European funds. Here, too, there is a risk that the money can be demanded back if the equipment does not work at the promised pace and volume.

In addition, expensive equipment can also affect waste management rates. Unlike packaging containers, residents will have to pay for organic ones. Now the Saeima is considering an initiative to determine that such waste removal will have to be paid for 40% less than for household waste. Environmentalists hope that then people will have more motivation to sort.

Baklane Ansberga points out: “Those who are not interested in this topic, they do not really understand how the tariff is formed, and probably do not even realize that if they were sorted and put in a packaging container, then there is no charge for it.

These producer responsibility systems also have an obligation to educate the public. This is the aspect that we do not think is the best way for the country to educate its citizens. Rather, it would be more correct if producer responsibility systems made some contributions to the fund, they would be large, ambitious campaigns on a national scale. Its education and communication are not enough.

They submit a report and we see that the communication event has been some kind of children’s drawing contest about used cars, which does not really educate the public about what legal waste recycling options are.”

In 2020, the natural resource tax rate increased in several sections. The Cabinet of Ministers basically directed the additional 11 million euros collected to VARAM and the Ministry of Culture. VARAM received 8.8 million euros in 2021 for the project “Integrated approach to resource management” in several institutions subordinate to the ministry, for the maintenance of the Salaspils nuclear reactor, as well as for several purposes unrelated to nature or the environment.

The revenue from the natural resource tax, which was credited to the VARAM budget, was used by the ministry to support the construction of the Liktendarza Saiet House and football fields.

VK Council member Inga Vilka states: “This is not seen as a priority measure, where there should be a reference to the National Development Plan or some other policy planning documents. There is a special procedure for setting priorities.”

Payments for the construction of soccer fields and other programs continued last year. The only exception is Liktendarzs, because the House of Assembly is finished.

The Ministry of Culture receives EUR 1.4 million annually from the natural resource tax increase. More than a million of this money goes to the “NGO Fund” program of the Society Integration Fund, and 300 thousand goes to the development of civic participation and social cohesion.

Post navigation

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *