Bottles or water bottles? This is the dilemma. Among the new taxes of 2020, the introduction of the plastic tax has been discussed, for several reasons. Some doubt that a tax can effectively discourage the consumption and production of environmentally harmful materials such as plastic, others argue that without a policy of incentives for research and support for companies in the sector, to facilitate the transition to recyclable materials, the tax alone risks generating various repercussions in terms of the economy and employment. Finally, according to others, the government simply tried to raise money.
In reality, with the plastic tax, Italy does nothing but adapt to the EU directive of 5 June 2019 no. 2019/904 / EU, on the specific theme of reducing single-use plastics. That it is insufficient is certain, we will see if it is effective. In the meantime, let’s see what the starting situation is and what happens in other countries.
Italy holds a sad record: with more than 200 liters per person per year, almost double the European average, we are the largest consumer of mineral water in Europe. This corresponds to 11 billion plastic bottles of mineral water every year, equivalent to 250 thousand tons of plastic, of which only 40% is recycled. In other words, about 150 thousand tons of plastic per year deriving from mineral water bottles are not properly disposed of through separate waste collection. There is a further source of environmental damage linked to the consumption of plastic bottled water in our country, transport. About 85% of transport is carried out by the road, compared to 15% by rail; this entails significant environmental costs in terms of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
The consequences of this consumption are devastating, in particular for seas and oceans, given the very long times it takes a plastic bottle to degrade (about 450 years, during which they release microplastics that spread even to the most remote areas) and the fact that only one-third of the plastic, even if properly sorted, is recycled on average, and the result of the recycling is plastic of inferior quality, which cannot be used to produce other bottles. It is not necessary to go far to observe the visible effects caused by disposable plastic on our territory: it is sufficient to walk along the banks of the rivers, first of all, the Po, in dry periods: the Po is a plastic river.