A little over a year ago, Sweden introduced a new chemicals tax aiming to target hazardous flame retardants in electronics. The tax was much debated far beyond the borders of Sweden and consequently raised the price of some consumer electronics. Now the Swedish government proposes a slight increase of the tax.
In general, ChemSec is very positive towards taxing hazardous chemicals in products, as it is one of the few tools available to promote substitution when EU regulations are moving too slow. However, the Swedish chemicals tax shows just how tricky it can be to get it right. This is what we said about it the last time around:
“The electronic tax addresses the problem of halogenated flame retardants, which is important, as all brominated and chlorinated flame retardants cause toxic emissions when incinerated in the waste phase. The tax also covers flame retardants based on phosphorus. However, some of the preferred alternatives to halogenated flame retardants are in this group. Even though this category is taxed at a lower rate, it still decreases the incentive to phase out halogenated flame retardants, which is very unfortunate. It would make more sense to handle the phosphorus-based alternatives case by case based on their hazardous properties.”
Now, a year later, this answer still very much applies.