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Richard Bruton, we want to see your study on Deposit Return Scheme

6 Nov 2019

Sick of Plastic Campaigners dump littered plastic bottles at Minister for Environment’s office to demand Deposit Return Scheme

As campaigners welcomed Minister Bruton's first steps to combat plastic pollution they urged him to introduce a Deposit and Return Scheme to capture the 1 million plastic bottles a day that don't get recycled. 

Sick of Plastic campaigners who gathered littered bottles for the protest outside the Minister's office were joined by 12-year old Flossie the Beach Cleaner, who spends her weekends picking up rubbish from her local beach.

40,000 people have now signed a petition calling for a bottle deposit return scheme. The Minister commissioned a feasibility study a year ago but has yet to publish it. His announcement today on other plastic measures was a missed opportunity according to campaigners.

In response to the Minister’s announcement this morning, to introduce a latte levy, Mindy O’Brien from VOICE Ireland comments:

“It’s about time the minister is introducing these measures, we hope that it is implemented faster than the time he took to think about it. Meanwhile, 22,000 single use cups are going to landfill or incineration every hour in Ireland.

“We’ve seen the increasing uptake of reusable cups through the Conscious Cup Campaign where coffee drinkers can get a discount when they bring their own cup. So now it’s great that single use cups will be taxed to discourage use and that money can go into initiatives for waste reduction.”

This morning Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, Richard Bruton, also announced a ‘levy phase’ which will include an increase on the plastic bag levy from 22c to 25c.

Oisin Coghlan, Director of Friends of the Earth, comments:

“I’m disappointed the increase is so little at 3c, in order to phase out single use plastic bags the levy should be at least 50c. It's the jolt of a big increase that makes a behaviour change difference. It begs the question - is this move simply for revenue raising?”

The Minister’s plan also includes a €5 tonne levy on waste recovery including landfill, incineration and export.

According to the Minister’s statement this morning, all revenue raised from these measures will go into the Environment Fund and be reinvested in environmental action. This includes tackling waste blackspots and litter community programmes such as the National Spring Clean initiative, Tidy Towns and the development of community areas and gardens.

Oisin Coghlan, Director of Friends of the Earth, comments:

“The Environment Fund should be used for recycling infrastructure, such as a deposit return scheme. Instead of providing somewhere to recycle on-the-go waste and give people incentives to recycle, the fund is encouraging people to pick up rubbish from beaches – it makes no sense.

“The levy from Incineration and landfill should be going straight into recycling facilities so we can transition to a circular economy. We need to return, not burn our plastic bottles and aluminium cans.”

Claudia Tormey, from Sick of Plastic comments:

“Currently, there is no recycling infrastructure for on-the-go waste in Ireland. Every plastic bottle and aluminium can that goes into a public street bin is going to landfill or incineration. Perfectly good recyclable materials are going to waste!

“Deposit Return Schemes mean less plastic litter on our streets, it rewards people for recycling and it keeps plastic and other recyclable materials so they can be repurposed. It works in other countries so we can do it in Ireland - but only if government lead the way.”

Deposit Return Scheme is a tried and tested method of collecting plastic bottles in public places, in states across America and countries across Europe people can return their used drinks containers in exchange for money at reverse vending machines. Just like we returned glass for coins in Ireland in the past we can do this for plastic and aluminium today.

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