Will the tax on waste incineration increase recycling in Sweden?

A big debate is opened after the Swedish government announced that a new tax on waste incineration will come into effect in April next year. This decision has raised the criticism of many actors, specially the energy plants in the country, that do not believe on the tax effect on promoting material recycling.

The Swedish Parliament (Riksdagen) approved on the 4th of December the introduction of a tax on waste incineration for production of electricity and district heating that will take effect from April next year. This new tax is part of a plan elaborated by the Government to achieve the national climate and environmental goals. The Swedish government expects that this tax will contribute to a more resource efficient waste handling increasing recycling and encourage a fossil-free society.

Incineration tax

The tax will be SEK 75 per tonne in April 2020 and will increase gradually to SEK 175 per tonne by 2022. Tax exemptions are expected for certain waste streams such as hazardous waste, biofuels or animal-by-products among others.

Criticism about the incineration tax

Taxes on waste incineration were tried before (2006–2010) in the country with no effect on recycling rates. Furthermore, the Swedish government has taken the decision on this new tax despite several reports from experts in the field stated that the implementation of the incineration tax will not have an environmental effect. Therefore, the decision from the Swedish government has raised considerable criticism among energy- and waste branch organizations in the country who believe that tax on waste incineration will have almost no effect on increasing material recycling and it is more of a fiscal tax.

Link to decision (only available in Swedish):