Share with your friends

South Africa: Possible tax on single-use plastics

South Africa: Possible tax on single-use plastics

South Africa’s government is considering a new tax on single-use plastics—items that are used only once before they are thrown away or recycled such as straws, coffee stirrers, water bottles, and most food packaging.


Related content

The National Treasury is expected to release later this year an environmental fiscal reform policy paper that would outline options to reform existing environmental taxes to broaden their coverage and to consider the role that new taxes can play in addressing air pollution and climate change, promoting efficient water use, reducing waste, and encouraging improvements in waste management.

A possible tax on single-use plastics was announced in the 2019 budget speech, and the objective would be to reduce the use of these items and encourage recycling. There has been no information concerning the quantum or effective date of a possible tax on single-use plastics. Because of South Africa’s heavy reliance on single-use plastics, a tax may be viewed as a more realistic option than a complete ban on plastic products. However, there are concerns that a tax on single-use plastics (which would not be “ring-fenced” but would be pooled in a manner similar to the plastic bag levy imposed in 2004) would do little to change behaviour and put an end to plastic pollution. 

KPMG observation

There are reports that the announcement of the single-use plastics tax in South Africa has not been well received, considering in part the carbon tax—a substantial environmental tax imposed on corporate South Africa. Read TaxNewsFlash

It is unclear whether a tax on single-use plastics would curb the use of these products, given that the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries has acknowledged that consumers have continued to use plastic bags despite the plastic bag levy quadrupling between 2004 and 2018. According to statistics reported by the South African Revenue Service at the end of 2018, the revenue brought in by the sale of plastic bags under the plastic bags tax increased by R9 million to R242 million for the year.

Read a July 2019 report [PDF 112 KB] prepared by the KPMG member firm in South Africa

© 2021 KPMG LLP, a Delaware limited liability partnership and a member firm of the KPMG global organization of independent member firms affiliated with KPMG International Limited, a private English company limited by guarantee. All rights reserved.

For more detail about the structure of the KPMG global organization please visit

The KPMG logo and name are trademarks of KPMG International. KPMG International is a Swiss cooperative that serves as a coordinating entity for a network of independent member firms. KPMG International provides no audit or other client services. Such services are provided solely by member firms in their respective geographic areas. KPMG International and its member firms are legally distinct and separate entities. They are not and nothing contained herein shall be construed to place these entities in the relationship of parents, subsidiaries, agents, partners, or joint venturers. No member firm has any authority (actual, apparent, implied or otherwise) to obligate or bind KPMG International or any member firm in any manner whatsoever. The information contained in herein is of a general nature and is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. Although we endeavor to provide accurate and timely information, there can be no guarantee that such information is accurate as of the date it is received or that it will continue to be accurate in the future. No one should act on such information without appropriate professional advice after a thorough examination of the particular situation. For more information, contact KPMG's Federal Tax Legislative and Regulatory Services Group at: + 1 202 533 4366, 1801 K Street NW, Washington, DC 20006.

Connect with us


Want to do business with KPMG?


loading image Request for proposal

Stay up to date with what matters to you

Gain access to personalized content based on your interests by signing up today

Sign up today