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Please call Minister Naughten as he bows to vested interests, scraps latte levy

Posted by Meaghan Carmody on April 26, 2018 at 03:10 PM

Nuaghten and Bosco

You’re not going to believe this.

Our Minister for Climate Action, Communications and Environment has just rowed back on his commitment [i] to implement a levy on single-use, non-recyclable coffee cups, of which we use half a million every single day.

Every. Single. Day.

This comes just days after thousands of concerned citizens took to the supermarkets for the national Sick of Plastic Day of Action on Supermarket Packaging [ii], discarding the excess plastic at the till to highlight their dissatisfaction with the status quo [iii]. This massive action (and the biggest we’ve ever been part of) took place in an effort to push supermarkets to reduce the amount of plastic packaging on their shelves, packaging which together with that in the rest of Europe comprises a whopping 40% [iv] of our plastic waste Europe-wide, according to a study by the European Commission and cited today in the Financial Times [v].

What can you do?

Step 1. Ring Minister Naughten's office

Number: +353 1 678 9807

Possible message (use your own words)

“I'm really annoyed to hear that the Minister is no longer supporting the introduction of a levy on single-use coffee cups. We use over half a million plastic-lined coffee cups every day in Ireland, which can't be recycled. You've probably heard the study that showed unless to do something there'll more plastic than fish in the sea by 2050. Coffee cups are a scourge on the environment and I believe we need strong, decisive action from Minister Naughten to reduce plastic waste. The levy on single-use coffee cups is part of the answer and I want to see it rolled out across the country.”

But don’t stop there!

If Minister Naughten won't act on plastic, then the Dáil can move ahead without him. TDs can pass the Waste Reduction Bill which would make a levy or a ban on single-use plastics the law.

Step 2. Ring the Dáil switchboard and ask for the office of your local TD

Number: +353 1 618 3000

Suggested message:

“I'm annoyed that Minister Naughten has gone back on his promise to put a levy or single-use coffee cups. I hear there is a Bill in a Dáil Committee, the Waste Reduction Bill, that would do the same thing. I’m calling you, as one of my local TDs, as I want you to help make the Bill law. Will you write to the Committee on my behalf? And tell the Minister I'm very disappointed too."

As if we needed more evidence that we need to ditch the plastic, the Claire Byrne show* on Monday April 23rd [vi] featured a public opinion poll in which it was crystal clear that the public are in favour of a tax or levy on single-use plastic packaging – which includes non-recyclable coffee cups.

poll

So, why is the Minister not responding to the wishes of the majority?

We think Minister Naughten is running scared of vested interests. He sees some shops slowly shifting, and has chosen to shirk his responsibility as Minister for Environment by offloading the responsibility to the retailers – as opposed to implementing good policy. He is favouring vested interests over the public interest, and ignoring the clarion call of the citizenry.

We saw the impact of the plastic bag tax which came into force in 2002. As a result of this tax implementation, a strong political act which didn’t pander to vested interests, national plastic bag use dropped by 90%, almost overnight. What Minister Naughten is doing now is like scrapping plans for the plastic bag tax because a few shops started offering paper bags before it came in.

Naughten is giving up on repeating the success of the plastic bag tax – this time with the scourge of single-use coffee cups. He is misjudging the public’s mood in a big way, and we can’t let him get away with it.

Encourage your friends to take action by sharing this on social media!

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Imagine an Ireland where bringing your reusable cup to your local café is as commonplace as bringing a reusable bag to the supermarket. With this one levy, we could see a dramatic shift take place almost instantaneously.

We believe that our Minister for Environment should act in response to public concern, and not pander to short-term business interests.

If you’re with us, then please, act now.

Meaghan Carmody

Head of Mobilization
The Friends of the Earth Team

*Our director Oisin was on the panel, and activists Miriam, Keith and Tom who took part in Saturday’s Day of Action spoke from the audience (see it here).


[i] https://www.irishtimes.com/news/environment/coffee-levy-considered-in-bid-to-reduce-disposable-cup-waste-1.3281773

[ii] https://www.irishtimes.com/news/environment/thousands-leave-plastic-behind-in-shops-on-day-of-action-1.3470027

[iii] Over the past 5 years, the amount of plastic packaging has nearly doubled in Ireland to nearly 300,000 tonnes per annum. From EPA National Waste Report 2015.

[iv] http://ec.europa.eu/environment/waste/pdf/plastic_waste_factsheet.pdf

[v] https://www.ft.com/content/aa446f04-48a2-11e8-8ae9-4b5ddcca99b3 (behind a paywall)

[vi] https://www.rte.ie/news/player/2018/0423/21354980-claire-byrne-live-plastics-levy/

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