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Friday, 21 January 2022 12:06

Two Irish Senators call for drink deposit change to cut pollution

Scandinavian type drink deposit schemes should be adopted in Ireland two prominent Senators believe. Fianna Fáil Senator Erin McGreehan and Sinn Féin's Paul Gavan have urged Environment Minister Eamon Ryan to learn from best practice examples of existing schemes in countries where recycling rates are over ninety percent and litter pollution has fallen.

Ireland's deposit return scheme (DRS) should have a variable deposit, the two Senators have suggested. This is where consumers pay a deposit that varies based on the size and material of the container.

ireland bottle deposit erintext520Ireland is set to introduce a deposit return scheme for aluminium cans and plastic bottles. In a move that has shocked environmentalists, glass bottles are set to be excluded from the scheme. The Government is set to announce the deposit level later this year.

Mr Gavan and Ms McGreehan believe consumers should pay a smaller deposit like €0.10 on containers under a litre. Drinks of more than a litre should be subject to a proportionally higher deposit, like €0.20, the Senators claim.

They believe a variable deposit fee will incentivise consumers to avoid purchasing the two-litre plastic bottles that have plagued Ireland's beaches for decades.

The most successful deposit return schemes are implemented in Scandinavian countries, who boast redemption and recycling rates upwards of 92 percent. Countries such as Norway, Finland, and Denmark have adopted a deposit variable by container size, and its value reflects the true sorting and recycling costs of each material.

The Senators also slammed the exclusion of glass from Ireland's deposit return scheme. In 2019 Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL) found five-in-six beaches and waterways were not considered clean enough to meet European standards,[i] with drinks containers made from a wide range of materials including glass bottles accounting for much of this litter. Redemption of glass recycling has significantly fallen too, with rates in Ireland between 2018 - 2019 falling from 86 to 76 percent, according to the official data.

Both Senators Erin McGreehan and Paul Gavan urged the Government to introduce a scheme which combats this, citing overwhelming public support for Ireland's DRS to be as comprehensive as possible.

ireland bottle deposit gavan text520 A 2020 poll commissioned by VOICE Ireland, and backed by Friends of the Earth, found 88 percent favour an "all-in" deposit return scheme, while 78 percent believed a variable fee should be used.

Senator Erin McGreehan said: "A DRS which uses a variable fee, inclusive of all materials, can be a powerful tool to improve recycling rates, and make consumers think twice about the environmental impact of the product they're buying.

"I will continue to advocate for a variable deposit scheme with Minister Ryan and I hope when the scheme is finalised that we will see the flexibility that is needed in order to make the DRS as effective as possible."

Senator Paul Gavan said: "Unless Environment Secretary Eamon Ryan quickly changes course, he risks introducing a watered-down scheme that flies in the face of what the Irish people want.

"There is a wealth of evidence which shows excluding glass would be disastrous for the environment, but also that using a variable fee can incentivise consumers to choose more environmentally friendly options.

"With Ireland's waste crisis showing little sign of abating, now more than ever before, the Government must stand up and be counted. An urgent review of the decision to exclude glass bottles must be launched."