Reluctant proposal of a Waste Incineration tax in Sweden

In 2016 the Swedish government appointed a public inquiry to review the conditions for waste incineration and analyse whether there is a need to introduce a tax on incineration of waste. The aim would be to make waste management more resource-efficient and non-toxic.

All this is in line with the Swedish government’s ambition to become one of the world’s first fossil-free welfare countries. In addition the inquiry later (mid 2017) also received directives that they should not only analyse if there is a need to introduce a tax on waste incineration, they should propose such a tax.

The inquiry should also look into the conversion of the Swedish NOx fee system into a tax and consider how EU Emission trading system could be supplemented with other economic instruments that apply to electricity and heat production.

The final report from the inquiry was published November 1. The conclusions are that a waste incineration tax would not have the intended effect (resourcefficient and non-toxic) but rather just be a fiscal tax to bring in money to the government. Since the inquiry had to propose a tax, the suggestion is a net-tax of 100 SEK/tonne of waste that is brought into the plants. Material that is sorted out for recycling and brought out of the plant will be deducted from the tax. As an example, ash that is used for construction purposes outside the plant will be deductible from the tax.

The report is available in Swedish, with a 7 page English summary, online here.