Irish minister for communications, climate action and environment proposes environmental levies to encourage more sustainable behaviour

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Irish minister for communications, climate action and environment proposes environmental levies to encourage more sustainable behaviour

November 18, 2019 - 09:51
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DUBLIN, Ireland, Nov. 6, 2019 (Press Release) -The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Richard Bruton, T.D. today (Wednesday the 6th of November 2019) announced a number of proposed environmental levies to encourage more sustainable behaviour, which will now be put out to consultation.

Minister Bruton said,

"How we use and dispose of our resources is crucial – in fact it accounts for 60% of our emissions. We must be more conscious of the impact we are having by the daily choices we make.

"Sustainable alternatives exist for all the items we are purposing to levy and the purpose is to shift behaviour towards the use of these alternatives."

Today's action is a key action under the Government's Climate Action Plan, the government's plan to ensure we meet our 2030 climate commitments, putting us on a trajectory to be net zero by 2050.

The proposed first phase of levies is as follows:

  • An increase to the existing Plastic Bag Levy from the current rate of 22c to 25c
  • Expanding the Plastic Bag levy to include medium weight plastic bags (True 'bag for life' bags will remain exempt)
  • A Waste Recovery Levy at €5 a tonne. This would apply to the three key waste recovery options – landfill, incineration and export
  • An increase to the Landfill Levy by €5 per tonne to €80 per tonne
  • A levy on disposable cups - the rate is to be determined following market research but likely to be 10c, 15c or 25c

On the introduction of a coffee cup levy, the Minister said:

"The introduction of a coffee cup levy has clear benefits for the environment, when you consider that 22,000 disposable coffee and tea cups are used every hour. Our first response must be to reduce the amount of waste created in the first place.

"The coffee cup levy should also lead to savings for consumers who make the switch, as well as savings for retailers who have to carry less disposable stock. In introducing a coffee cup levy, clear pricing information will be vital. Clear information regarding price will be important in driving change. We will call on shops to display pricing information so that their customers have full information on:

  • Coffee price (i.e. where you have your keep cup)
  • Added charge for using a single use cup (which would include the price of the disposable cup and the levy)
  • Coffee price when the customer is sitting in using the premises' tableware"

Questions in relation to pricing will be included in the public consultation.

It is also proposed to develop a second phase of levies, to come into effect from 2022, which would focus on take away food containers, and a third phase which will address food packaging in retail outlets including for bakery items, fruit, vegetables etc. The exact scope and rate of such levies is to be developed but these items will also be included in the consultation being announced today.

All revenue raised from these measures will go into the Environment Fund and be reinvested in environmental action, such as tackling waste blackspots & litter community programmes such as the National Spring Clean initiative, Tidy Towns and the development of community areas and gardens.

Minister Bruton said:

"Climate disruption is the biggest challenge facing this generation. A tonne of food wasted or single use packaging tipped into a landfill, results in the 6 tonnes of carbon which it took to make that food or packaging, completely lost to the world. Even if such waste is not avoided, residual waste could be halved if businesses and homes put things in the right bin.

"These changes, we hope, will make people more conscious of this and will encourage people to make small changes such as bringing their own bags shopping, or their own cup when going for a coffee, that can make a difference. All of the funds collected will go back into environmental action. Industry too will be expected to make changes and we will be designing levies on food packaging and takeaway containers."