Material input taxation – the forgotten tool in policy-mixes for resource protection
Benjamin Bongardt1, Nele Kampffmeyer2, Andreas Hermann2, Ida Westphal2
1NABU e.V., Germany; 2Oeko-Institut e.V., Germany
This contribution suggests an in depth discussion about material input taxes (MIT). So far taxation has only been established to stimulate energy efficiency, decrease landfilling or reduce primary raw material usage in the construction sector on the country level. Examples as a levy on specific uses of a readymade product (e.g. taxation of drink containers) exist in some countries. However, none of those taxation concepts focus on a horizontal approach to reduce the input of specific materials or substances in different goods, in general.
Other policy instruments to minimise raw material consumption per person towards a sustainable level like eco-labelling, consumer information, state funding for resource efficiency in the production sector or minimum standards (e.g. EU-Eco-Design, CE, etc.), haven’t been successful enough to change consumption patterns to a sustainable level, especially in industrialised countries. Meanwhile all academic analyses state that a policy-mix is necessary to reach an absolute decoupling of economic growth from resource consumption, especially in wealthy societies where spending of money is directly interlinked with more resource use.
A first synthesis on the example of a MIT on plastics has shown that several factors are to be scrutinised. A MIT on plastics should be implemented as an excise duty. The state has the legal justification for the levy. Since plastics are used in a wide range of products it is best to levy the tax rate on the base of quantity, not value. It is important to index such a quantity tax. A regional (e.g. EU) approach would ensure that necessary boarder adjustments of the tax are minimised. Problems with lacking data, especially in connection with imported products, can be reduced if only certain relevant applications of plastics are subject to tax. A further patronising of recycled and ready for recycling plastics are possible through reduced tax rates.