As a reminder, the “Plastic Tax” will affect plastic or synthetic organic polymer single-use items (MACSI) that have or are intended to have a function of containment, protection, handling or delivery of goods or food products. The tax, which has a fixed value of €0.45 per kg of MACSI products sold, will be charged to manufacturers, importers and, of course, purchasers.
In February 2021, the Customs Agency had published the draft of the director’s decision to implement the tax, giving an advance notice of some fundamental aspects, including the scope of the tax, the obligations of the obliged parties, the content of the quarterly declaration, the additional information to be indicated on invoices relating to purchases and sales of MACSI and the refund procedures. The legislative decision to further postpone the effectiveness of the provisions relating to the tax, since a new revision of the tax cannot be ruled out, is reasonable insofar as many interpretative and applicative questions have remained open, which do not allow operators a complete understanding of all the possible effects of the new tax which, given its complexity, will not only be fiscal, but will most likely influence the business models of companies, which will increasingly have to move towards sustainable development models.
On this subject, it should be pointed out that the EU strategy introduced with the so-called “2030 Agenda” for sustainable development, which concerns the three dimensions of sustainability (ESG – economic, social and environmental governance) and identifies the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (OSS/SDGs), has among its main objectives the protection of the environment from plastic pollution, encouraging Member States to adopt consumption and production models that reduce the impact of plastics on the environment (Directive 2019/904/EU). The adoption of this strategy is aimed at protecting the planet and its citizens, but above all at making companies responsible, with the main purpose of changing the way products are designed, manufactured, used and recycled, creating new business opportunities.
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This new entrepreneurial paradigm that integrates social responsibility with the lucrative purpose typical of business activity has sanctioned the transition from shareholder economy to stakeholder economy, which has found a corresponding Italian legal model in the Benefit Companies, introduced into our legal system by Law no. 208/2015, which identifies them as those companies that “pursue one or more purposes of common benefit and operate in a responsible, sustainable and transparent manner towards people, communities, territories and the environment, cultural and social goods and activities, bodies and associations and other stakeholders”.
In fact, the Benefit Company embodies a substantial evolution of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) rather than a new company form, since all types of companies (identified in Book V, Title V and VI of the Civil Code) can transform themselves into, or be established as, for-benefit companies and pursue both profit and non-profit objectives at the same time.
The adoption of this corporate model, and therefore the formalisation of the common benefit in the articles of association, allows the governance to: identify the objectives to be pursued; identify the beneficiaries to be reached; establish the actions to be concretely pursued; verify the actions undertaken and measure the achievement of the set objectives by reporting on them in the annual report prepared by the directors.
The Benefit Company based on the principles of accountability, i.e. measurement and reporting of the impact generated, commitment and disclosure represents an effective tool to increase the prestige or image of the company, to develop new sustainable business models and consequently to create new development opportunities.