The Ministry of Finance offered to compensate importers for the environmental tax, which they will pay when importing goods into Russia. But for this they will have to recycle used goods on their own.

The Ministry of Finance offered to reimburse importers and manufacturers of goods for the amount of the environmental fee paid by them at the expense of a subsidy from the budget. But only those companies that will independently deal with the disposal of used goods will be able to claim this. The deputy head of the department Irina Okladnikova wrote about this on November 17 to Deputy Prime Minister Victoria Abramchenko, who oversees the environment in the government (a copy of the letter is at the disposal of RBC, its authenticity was confirmed by the representative of the Deputy Prime Minister Marta-Maria Galicheva).

“The Ministry of Finance considers it expedient, together with the concerned departments, to work out the possibility of returning the eco-collection through the provision of subsidies to producers and importers of goods that have paid such a fee. At the same time, the subsidy is proposed to be provided based on the costs of the manufacturer or importer for waste disposal within the limits of the eco-collection paid by the organization” Ministry of Finance. He added that such an approach would allow tracking the fulfillment of waste disposal obligations and ensuring cost recovery based on actual costs incurred.

When and how eco-fee is paid

In addition to the issues of compensation for the eco-collection, the government is also discussing the issue of when importers should pay it. The idea of importers paying the eco-collection for imported goods immediately at customs, and not in a year or more, as it is now, was discussed last week, on November 20, at a meeting with Abramchenko. A federal official and two top managers of companies familiar with the results of the meeting told RBC about this. However, the meeting did not announce the timing of granting subsidies for utilizers, both importers and domestic producers.

Marta-Maria Galicheva refused to comment on the results of the meeting before the minutes appeared. At the same time, she noted that “the current system, in which the importer reports for disposal after two years, has shown its inefficiency.” According to her, the Deputy Prime Minister instructed to work out effective tools that, on the one hand, will contribute to the actual disposal, including the packaging entering the country, that is, reducing the waste in the country. On the other hand, they will provide a flexible system for entrepreneurs without fiscal mechanisms.

Now the company pays the environmental fee until April 15 of the year following the reporting year, recalls Natalya Belyaeva, deputy head of the Delovaya Rossiya committee for waste processing and secondary resources. That is, for 2020, the payment of the eco-tax for importers, as well as for domestic producers, must be made before April 15, 2021. At the same time, the fee is not mandatory: it is paid only if the companies have not fulfilled their obligations to dispose of waste from imported goods (packaging) on ​​their own. At the same time, when importing goods at customs, only the cost of the goods is declared, the importer can provide information about the packaging voluntarily.

As emphasized by Galicheva, today there are “responsible companies” that are successfully engaged in recycling. But there are those who do not do this, and by the time the utilization report is submitted, they have ceased to exist as a legal entity. In this case, the financial burden for disposal actually falls on the population, which is unacceptable, she concluded.

Manufacturers and importers have an alternative between paying eco-fee and self-disposal, while the latter is encouraged by law (for example, the ability to use a reduction factor for recyclables in the case of self-disposal), notes the head of the department for sustainable business development and corporate relations of Unilever in Russia, Ukraine and in Belarus Irina Antyushina. “Direct costs of companies for self-disposal through our association can be reduced by about 30%,” adds Anton Guskov, a representative of the Collective Responsibility System “Electronics-Utilization” association (uniting electronics manufacturers Sony, Ariston, Samsung, etc.).

What is eco-collection

An environmental fee is a non-tax payment for the disposal of goods or packaging that a business must pay under the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) mechanism. However, the EPR mechanism, which has been operating in Russia since 2015, is now being reformed due to inefficiency. As former Minister of Natural Resources Dmitry Kobylkin said, about 3 billion rubles are collected within the framework of the eco-harvest. per year, while the population pays 180 billion rubles for the removal of solid municipal waste. in year.

What business warns about

Business representatives interviewed by RBC pointed to a number of risks in new approaches to collection and recycling, which the authorities are discussing:

The risk of scaling down the disposal of goods by the business. The new procedure for paying the eco-tax “in advance” for independent utilizers will result in a double burden on them, says the head of the RusPEK association (which includes CocaCola, Pepsico, Danone, etc.) Lyubov Melanevskaya. “The first time importers will in good faith pay the fee at customs, then invest in a structure for the disposal of their products. then, few will. Antyushina also considers it risky to invest in recycling. “There is no clear guarantee that the efforts of entrepreneurs in the actual recycling will be” credited “by the regulator for further cost recovery. It’s easier to pay the eco-tax once and forget about it until the next reporting year, “she notes.

Lack of a system for the disposal of goods at the state level. Guskov notes that in Russia, at the state level, a special collection system for unusable electronics has not been created. “Today, electronics cannot be buried at landfills, and it is extremely difficult to collect for disposal,” he points out. “The targeted spending of ecological collection funds has not yet been established. In the long term, this carries the risk of landfill growth if the state does not start creating an efficient recycling system instead of a business that will curtail its recycling programs in order to save money,” Melanevskaya adds.

Fiscal nature of the payment. Guskov emphasizes that electronics falls into disrepair and is disposed of in 10-15 years. Eco-tax will have to be paid annually and immediately upon import. In this scenario, it looks like a fiscal measure, not a way to reduce the amount of waste in the country. “The mechanism will turn into an exclusively fiscal exercise, which will not stimulate the development of processing infrastructure and will significantly slow down the country’s transition to a circular economy,” Antyushina agrees.

Risk of rising commodity prices. Both Melanevskaya and Guskov believe that after the introduction of new rules, eco-harvest will be included in the cost of production and will affect its retail price.

RBC sent inquiries to the Ministry of Finance and Abramchenko’s representative with a request to comment on the opinion of the business.

However, not all business representatives saw only disadvantages in the new eco-collection rules. Belyaeva notes that the mechanism proposed to be applied to the environmental collection of importers of goods falling under the EPR is identical to the recycling fee. “The waste collection is paid when the machine is put on the market, and the costs of its disposal are compensated by the provision of a subsidy within the framework of the rules approved by the government decree. goods in the event that importers do not independently dispose of waste from the goods imported by them, “she said.

Business sees the solution to the problem of avoiding paying the eco-tax in the absence of real utilization in tightening control. “We are in favor of increasing the efficiency of state supervision in the field of payment of ecological collection and processing,” says Guskov. The representative of Abramchenko agrees with this point of view: “The Deputy Prime Minister has repeatedly noted that the concept should establish an unconditional priority of actual disposal over the payment of environmental fees. At the same time, it is necessary to provide a clear control system for the disposal of packaging and waste. extended producer responsibility, including importers. “

Source: RBC