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Waste Manag. 2013 Aug;33(8):1776-83. doi: 10.1016/j.wasman.2013.03.015. Epub 2013 Apr 18.

Towards a coherent European approach for taxation of combustible waste.

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  • 1Policy Research Center for Sustainable Materials Management, KU Leuven, Belgium.


Although intra-European trade of combustible waste has grown strongly in the last decade, incineration and landfill taxes remain disparate within Europe. The paper proposes a more coherent taxation approach for Europe that is based on the principle of Pigovian taxation, i.e. the internalization of environmental damage costs. The approach aims to create a level playing field between European regions while reinforcing incentives for sustainable management of combustible waste. Three important policy recommendations emerge. First, integrating waste incineration into the European Emissions Trading System for greenhouse gases (EU ETS) reduces the risk of tax competition between regions. Second, because taxation of every single air pollutant from waste incineration is cumbersome, a differentiated waste incineration tax based on NO(x) emissions can serve as a second-best instrument. Finally, in order to strengthen incentives for ash treatment, a landfill tax should apply for landfilled incineration residues. An example illustrates the coherence of the policy recommendations for incineration technologies with diverse environmental effects.

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Combustible waste; Europe; Incineration; Level playing field; Pigovian tax

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