Waste

Waste is an increasingly serious environmental and economic problem. Only 14% of plastics packaging is collected for recycling after use, resulting in economic losses worth USD 80-120 billion annually, and a trend which will see more plastic in the sea by weight than fish by 2050 (Macarthur Foundation 2017). Green fiscal policies can improve resource efficiency and drive the transition to a circular economy, e.g. by implementing plastics taxes to encourage plastics recycling.

Poor waste management contributes to resource scarcity, climate change (due to methane emissions from landfill), soil and groundwater contamination, littering and damage to marine and land-based ecosystems, while in many countries, informal and unsanitary waste dumps pose a serious threat to human health. Growth of these negative impacts is a reflection of current inefficient consumption and production patterns and a widespread failure to price the negative impacts of waste and resource use appropriately.

Green fiscal policies can price negative environmental externalities related to liquid, solid, organic, recyclable, and hazardous waste. Green fiscal policies can support a shift to more desirable forms of waste treatment, or towards reuse, recycling or composting by means of resources taxes, e.g. taxes on plastics or rare earths and metals, taxes on waste production and collection, or on landfill and incineration. Advanced disposal fees or extended producer responsibility can encourage production decisions that address questions of end of life disposal. Household waste charges can influence behaviour in favour of recycling and waste reduction. Revenues can be used e.g. to fund the environmental recovery of sites damaged by toxic waste pollution, or to improve waste management systems. An integrated approach to resource efficiency and waste can support governments in their efforts to realise a circular economy.
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