Proposals to tax the import of waste into the Netherlands have been laid before the country’s parliament this week.

The tax is part of a package of measures to address climate change and is expected to increase the cost of residual waste treatment for local authorities and businesses from the UK who use incineration plants in the Netherlands to dispose of waste.

King Willem Alexander (right) opened the Dutch Parliament in the Hague yesterday (17 September). He is pictured arriving at the Parliament with his wife Queen Máxima. (Picture: fotografiekb /

Legislation to introduce a tax on foreign waste was among a host of measures put before the parliament during the Prinsjesdag (Prince’s Day) opening of the Dutch Senate and House of Representatives yesterday (17 September).

During Prinsjesdag, the country’s monarch, Willem Alexander, sets out the government’s key policy proposals for the coming parliament, and a budget is presented to elected representatives.

Documents published on the government’s tax proposals yesterday indicate that around 1.9 million tonnes of ‘foreign’ waste is incinerated in Holland’s energy from waste facilities, roughly 25% of the country’s overall capacity, including a large proportion from the UK.


A tax on the incineration of domestically produced waste has existed in the Netherlands since 2015, and the new tax on waste sourced from outside of the country, which will be implemented from January 2020, will see this applied across all waste handled in the country. This stands at around €32 per tonne.

In its explanatory document setting out the measures, the Dutch government stated: “Taxing waste materials that have been transferred to the Netherlands for incineration creates an incentive to better sort these waste materials or to process them more efficiently.

“Waste that is incinerated or dumped in the Netherlands will be taxed in the same way, regardless of whether these waste [sic] originated in the Netherlands or were shipped to the Netherlands. The government expects that this measure will reduce the amount of waste shipped that is incinerated in the Netherlands.

“The government expects that this measure will reduce the amount of waste shipped that is incinerated in the Netherlands.”

Dutch Government

“This is expected to lead to a reduction in CO2 emissions in the Netherlands, even if a correction is made for an increase in alternative ways of generating electricity and heat to compensate for decreased production of electricity and heat in waste incineration plants.”

Export market

The Netherlands is the largest market for the material from the UK taking in more than one million tonnes a year and exporters have claimed that the proposal has the potential to wipe out the trade to Holland.

Members of Parliament will have the opportunity to vote on the legislation and some proposals could be amended or even dropped.

The tax has already prompted lobbying from both the UK and organisations in the Netherlands, who argue that the measure could see more waste landfilled if it is not economically viable to export for incineration, which could, in turn, lead to higher CO2 emissions.