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How Spain’s new tax on plastics will affect you

From 2023, the Spanish government will introduce new taxes on plastics aimed at limiting single-use plastics and cutting waste generation in landfills. But what is the tax, the rationale behind it, and how will it affect customers in Spain?

How Spain's new tax on plastics will affect you
As you might have already guessed, this will have a direct impact on shoppers as the costs are likely to be passed on to consumers and prices will rise. Photo: Pixabay.

The Waste and Contaminated Soils Law is being brought in to try and decrease the use of single-use plastics, and to reduce the waste produced in landfills by 15 percent compared to 2010 levels.

The Spanish government hopes to cut the use of food containers and single-use plastic cups by up to 70 percent by 2030.

Companies that use non-reusable plastic will also be required by law to pay an extra tax of 44 cents per kilogram, and landfill and incineration centres will be hit with a new tax that could range from €1.50 to 40 per metric tonne.

It also stipulates that food stores greater than 400 square metres in size must allocate 20 percent of their floor space to products without plastic packaging.

This step is thought to hit supermarkets particularly hard, who package the majority of their products in plastic.

READ ALSO: What are the recycling rules in Spain?

The collection of domestic bio-waste for towns with more than 5,000 inhabitants will also be expanded, as well as textile waste, used cooking oils, hazardous household waste and bulky waste from 2025. Bans on the destruction of unsold surpluses of textile products, toys and electrical appliances, and the intentional release of balloons will also be phased in.

How will this affect me?

Though the new taxes will be largely levied on all kinds of companies, the sector most likely to be impacted by the new legislation are supermarkets and the food industry as a whole, which have warned that the changes will increase production costs and could also result in lay-offs.

As you might have already guessed, this will have a direct impact on shoppers as the costs are likely to be passed on to consumers and prices will rise. This comes at the tail-end of a year or record-breaking inflation levels in Spain and across Europe, with consumer spending power on supermarket goods hit particularly hard.

Though inflation has eased somewhat in recent weeks and Spain’s IPC (the consumer price index) is below other major European economies, the rise in prices as a by-product of the new plastic taxes will likely hit hard as Spaniards move into the New Year.

READ ALSO: Spain’s July inflation rate reaches new 38-year high

The tax comes into effect from January 2023, so prices could first rise during the colder winter months as Spaniards struggle to pay cripplingly high energy bills.

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Black Friday in Spain: What you should be aware of

Here's what you need to know about the Black Friday sales in Spain in 2022, from when they start to which retailers are offering discounts and why the sales aren't always as good as they're made out to be.

Black Friday in Spain: What you should be aware of

Black Friday is the day when some of Spain’s biggest retailers hold huge sales and give massive discounts (or so they claim) in the run-up to the start of the Christmas shopping season.

The tradition originated in the US as it was held the day after Thanksgiving.

READ ALSO: Where Americans can celebrate Thanksgiving

While Spain doesn’t generally celebrate the American Thanksgiving holiday, it does however go in for Black Friday in a big way, along with many other countries around the world.

Spain began getting in on the Black Friday action in 2011 when the regulations on promotions and sales changed.

When is Black Friday?

This year, Black Friday will be held on Friday November 25th, but many companies and online retailers decide to hold sales throughout the month or even extend them for a whole week instead of just one day.

For example, tech store MediaMarkt began giving discounts on November 1st and will continue its sales until November 30th, while Mr. Wonderful began its discounts early too on November 18th.

Inditex group (which includes clothes stores Zara, Pull & Bear, Massimo Dutti, Bershka, Oysho and Stradivarious) will publish their discounts online on Thursday November 24th.

Many stores will also extend their offers until Monday November 28th, which has become known as Cyber Monday. On this day, more tech companies and online retailers will be offering discounts too.

What will there be discounts on?

There will be Black Friday sales in Spain on everything from fashion and beauty to sports equipment, homeware and technology, among others.

Businesses are also allowing the return periods to be extended until January 6th 2023 or even into February, so that people can start their Christmas shopping early.

Spanish stores such as Mango, Zara and El Corte Inglés will all be having sales, as well as international and online retailers such as Amazon and Primark.

Swedish furniture giant Ikea will be doing something a little different this year, having a Green Friday where they’ll buy back some of your old furniture. 

According to a study by online marketing company Webloyalty, it is expected that online spending will grow by 25 percent compared to 2021, despite the rise in the cost of living and the financial squeeze many are experiencing.

Are Black Friday sales in Spain really that good?

Research conducted by Spanish consumer watchdog OCU over the past seven years has proven that many shops put the prices of their products up before Black Friday, so that the discounts they then apply aren’t really bargains for shoppers, but businesses get to capitalise on the shopping frenzy. 

In 2021, OCU spent 30 days writing down prices for almost 17,000 products in 52 stores. Almost a third of them rose in price (32.5 percent of the products), 11.8 percent of which cost less in the week of Black Friday. Overall, an average price rise of 3.3 percent was calculated.

There’s even a Twitter hastag #timofertasBF ( abit like ‘ripofferBF’) where user post the products that claim to be on discount but really aren’t.

Therefore, when it comes to big purchases in particular, make sure that you’re familiar with the average price of the product before Black Friday by comparing prices online. That should help you to ascertain whether you’re actually getting a good offer. 

If it’s a top-of-the-range product that’s just been released, don’t expect it to be on sale, and if it is, you should be suspicious.

Watch out for Black Friday scams

Be aware that while Black Friday can mean some great bargains, it’s also a day that brings out scammers and people who are waiting to steal your personal details.

In the past, there have been situations where second-hand items never arrive, the setup of fake online stores and discounts that contain malware.

You should particularly look out for phishing scams, where people try to steal your identity or personal details and fraudulent text messages.

Experts agree that there are several ways to protect yourself against potential Black Friday fraudsters including avoiding suspicious links or online shops you’re not aware of, using only official websites, creating strong passwords, not trusting any discounts that seem way too good to be true and using online security software.