Sweden proposes a chemicals tax on textiles
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Sweden proposes a chemicals tax on textiles

A year ago, the Swedish Government decided to investigate the possibility of introducing a chemicals tax on clothing and shoes containing hazardous substances. Now, a proposal has been handed over to the Government – and it points in the right direction.

It suggests that all clothing items and shoes become taxable, with possible tax reductions if the taxpayer can prove that products do not contain certain hazardous chemicals. It proposes a default taxation of 4 EUR per kilogram of the products weight, and tax reductions up to 95% if the product does not contain any harmful chemicals.

The tax proposal focuses on chemicals that fulfil the EU REACH criteria for being Substances of Very High Concern (SVHCs) as well as similar chemicals that can be deemed to fulfil the same criteria. Special attention is given to weather-resistant products because they may contain PFAS. The taxpayer would be required to pay an additional 2 EUR per kilogram in tax for these products.

We hope that the Government
will suggest to include other textile products as well”

“We are glad to see that the inquiry chair has taken such a broad approach in terms of suggesting to include a wide spectrum of harmful chemicals. We hope that the Government will suggest to include other textile products such as curtains, bed linen and towels as well”, says Frida Hök, Senior Policy Advisor at ChemSec.

The tax proposal is an effort to phase out hazardous chemicals and biocides from clothing and shoes, and states that a broad taxation like this should be viewed as a contribution to the circular textile economy that the European Union wants to achieve.

“The best way to ensure that recycled textiles are free from hazardous chemicals is to make sure that they are not included as ingredients from the beginning. This proposal is completely in line with the EU ambition to achieve a clean circular economy and the non-toxic environment goal of the Swedish Government”, Frida Hök says.

This is not the first time that Sweden imposes a chemicals tax on consumer products. On July 1, 2017, Sweden introduced a chemicals tax on electronics, targeting hazardous flame retardants.

The Swedish chemicals tax on clothing and shoes is proposed to come into force on April 1, 2021.

ChemSec welcomes this proposed chemicals tax and encourages the Swedish Government to include other textile products as well. EU chemicals legislation is slow and measures like this would give the process of substituting hazardous substances in the textile industry a real push.