Spanish councils set to impose new 'rubbish tax' but rules remain unclear

Conor Faulkner
Conor Faulkner - [email protected]
Spanish councils set to impose new 'rubbish tax' but rules remain unclear
It is unclear if and how exactly local authorities will enforce this rubbish tax. (Photo by JORGE GUERRERO / AFP)

Local councils across Spain have until 2025 to introduce a new 'rubbish tax' to help create a local circular economy and save on waste. Many city officials are not happy about it, nor are they sure who is going to pay the tax and how it's going to work.


Local councils across Spain will soon be charging a 'rubbish tax' that reflects the cost of waste collection in towns and cities. The tax, or la tasa de basuras as it's known in Spanish, must be introduced by local governments by April 8th 2025 at the latest.

However, not all of them are happy about implementing the rule and there's still some confusion about how exactly to do it.


According to the official government BOE: the law “for the first time… expressly includes the obligation for local authorities to have a fee or, as the case may be, a non-tax public economic benefit, differentiated and specific for the services they must provide in relation to the waste under their jurisdiction, fees that should tend towards payment per generation.”

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This presents a challenge for some local councils because the new charge must be separated from pre-existing municipal taxes that cover waste collection.

The law draws on European legislation and enforces the principle of ‘the polluter pays’, meaning that, in theory, local residents (and in some cases town halls, for waste that can't be recycled) should pay according to their wastage.

It is unclear if and how exactly local authorities will enforce this. Some in the Spanish media suggest it could even involve weighing wastage before depositing it.

The 'Waste and Contaminated land law for a circular economy', to give it its proper title, was passed by the Spanish government back in April 2022 and officially came into force last year. The law gave councils a grace period of three years to begin implementing the ‘rubbish tax’.

However, many town halls are still unsure about the proposals. Mayors in the Madrid municipalities of Alcorcón, Ciempozuelos, Fuentidueña de Tajo and Parla, among others, recently presented a joint proposal to the Madrid Federation of Municipalities (FMM) to ‘homogenise’ this tax and have it as a flat rate.

Some town halls are already charging the fee. Others are charging part of it but not the full amount to cover waste collection and treatment, while some say the fees are already covered by other pre-existing municipal taxes.


Jorge Anento, deputy director of Imedes, an environmental consultancy company based in Valencia, told Levante that waste collection fees are already integrated into other bills, such as the Property Tax (known as IBI in Spain), and that the new fee will in theory be dependent on the amount of rubbish generated. "Now it will have to be exclusive… if you generate €100, you will pay that amount, it must be fair," he said.

The law also forces companies that use non-reusable plastic 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.

"For everything that the council cannot separate and treat properly and has to go to a landfill, it will be charged at €30 per tonne, managed through the Ministry of Finance, which will pass it on to each council," Anento says.

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