Polish deposit return system

October 25, 2023

On 13 October 2023, the law on the deposit return system, which describes the collection of packaging waste, came into force. The full operation of the deposit return system is expected on 1 January 2025.

What changes are anticipated?

  • new requirements for entities responsible for packaging and packaging waste
  • new levels of selective collection of containers and container waste
  • amendment of the provisions on product fee
  • additional obligations in the context of informing consumers about the container return system
  • penalties for activities that violate the established regulations

What goes into the deposit return system?

  • plastic bottles up to 3l
  • metal cans up to 1l
  • glass bottles for multiple use up to 1,5l

Each seller will be able to collect the deposit, and larger shops will have bigger obligations.

Shops up to 200 square meters are required to collect a deposit, and it is optional to return it and collect containers. Shops over 200 square meters must collect and refund deposits and collect packaging. Shops exceeding 2000 square meters are obliged to collect and return deposit and to collect packaging, as well as to carry out the selective collection of waste.

Appropriate representative entities will be designated for the management of the deposit return system, which will act as a joint-stock company with a capital of less than PLN 5 million. The group introducing products in beverage containers may establish a representative entity and join the deposit return system established by that entity or join an existing system. Representative entities will report for individuals or groups who have joined the system. A product fee is provided for those who do not reach the required levels of selective collection of packaging and waste, as well as those who will not create a deposit return system.

Invoicing VAT on packaging

The newly introduced provisions of the VAT Act inform about reusable packaging – glass beverage bottles up to 1.5l. In accordance with Section 29a, paragraph 10 of the VAT Act, the value of the packaging is included in the price of the goods, on which the tax is charged corresponding to the rate for the product in question. The value of the packaging itself is not included in the tax base if the goods have been delivered in return packaging and the seller has collected a deposit for it or has specified it in the contract for the delivery of goods. If the packaging is not returned, then the tax base is increased by the amount of the containers.

The return must be made:

  • the day after the date on which the contract defined the return of the container – only if the container has not been returned within the specified deadline,
  • 60 days from the day when the container was issued – only when the contract did not specify the deadline for the return

Rules for determining the tax base for the sale of products in reusable containers (glass bottles with a capacity of 1.5 l) have been added to the VAT Act. In accordance with Article 29a(11a), the value of these containers will not be included in the VAT value when they are covered by the deposit return system.  Article 29a, paragraph 12a, of the VAT Act stipulates that in the case of not returning a reusable containers, the goods in beverage containers are subject to higher tax on the value of that packaging.

The provisions concerning the adjustments relating to the packaging of beverages will also be changed – they are to be made only once a year. The rules for adjustments are laid down in Article 29a, paragraph 12b, of the VAT Act. According to it, it can be concluded that those who introduce products in beverage packaging will determine a change in the tax base. This will be possible by calculating the difference between the number of reusable containers placed on the market and the amount of those containers returned in a year. It should be stressed that if the number of returned reusable containers in a given year is higher than the amount of reusables containers placed on the market in that year, this will be taken into account when clarifying the value of the tax base for the following year.

Keeping records

Having products in beverage packaging requires keeping an electronic record containing all the data necessary to establish the amount of tax change, in particular:

  • information about the reusable packaging placed on the market, taking into account the type, number and value of packaging for which a deposit was collected in a given year
  • information on returned reusable packaging, including the type, number and value of packaging for which a deposit was paid in a given year

The records should contain information on returned packaging waste with specification of the types, number and amounts returned for packaging wastes. The taxpayer is obliged to show the electronic record at the request of the tax authority and to keep it for 5 years from the end of the fiscal year in which the change in the tax base was established.


Text based on: „Polski system kaucyjny – nowe obowiązki przedsiębiorców w zakresie zbierania odpadów z opakowań” Inforlex.

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