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Minister to set out the 'good from the bad' in how supermarkets tackle plastic waste

Minister Richard Bruton said he has met with all supermarket chains about reducing their waste.

Image: Shutterstock/DutchScenery

ENVIRONMENT MINISTER RICHARD Bruton said he intends to set out the “good from the bad” in how Irish supermarkets tackle food and plastic waste. 

At the launch of the Government’s Climate Action Plan yesterday, the minister was asked what is being done to ensure that large retailers play their part in a bid to reduce plastic waste.

Bruton said a meeting was held with all stakeholders in September, and proposals are now being drawn up on how the sector can implement the changes needed. 

“We are already seeing many of them sign up to a food pledge and a plastic pledge and we will be aiming to roll out and get an increasing number to commit to the details to those pledges which are around reducing and eliminating unnecessary use of plastics and achieving savings in particular in food,” he said. 

His comments follow on from similar remarks during the summer when he said more punitive measures, such as a ‘name and shame’ approach, could be on the way for supermarkets that do not sign up to plastic reduction pledges. 

Plastic pledge

Over 90 companies have signed a pledge to commit to minimising avoidable single-use packaging and promote packaging reuse where possible.

Aldi, Lidl and Tesco have all signed up. Musgrave, the parent company of SuperValu and Centra, is also a signatory 

When asked if supermarkets that do not sign up will face any repercussions, the minister said: 

We will be setting out the good from the bad in terms of practice within supermarkets.

The minister said consumers will make their opinions known on such retail chains with footfall. 

“No one will want to not be involved in these pledges as consumers are going to look for these things.

Customer needs

“I have been out with virtually every chain who are already seeking the need to step up their own demonstrations with their own consumers. When we produce the information that shows the scale of commitment, consumers will be able to see for themselves which chains are taking this seriously,” said Bruton. 

The minister has already said that the government will be taking a tougher stance on retailers, supermarkets and manufacturers, noting that the government will be changing the fee structures so that companies will pay higher fees for waste that is difficult to manage. 

“Yes, we will take a tougher stance,” he said, adding that the government will be changing the fee structures so that companies will pay higher fees for waste that is difficult to manage.

“We will be seeking for more carbon pledges or plastic pledges from companies who are in the retail and manufacturing area so this is an area where we can set very strong ambitions,” he told TheJournal.ie at the MacGill Summer School in Glenties in Donegal over the summer. 

When asked if a ‘name and shame’ approach of supermarkets that aren’t pulling their weight could be on the cards, the minister replied:

“Yes, I think that will be an element of this. It will be about getting people to sign up to pledges for change, it will be charging those but it will also be empowering consumers because I think it is consumers that are really driving this agenda.”

He said the first step being taken with supermarkets is the modulating of the fees structure for waste collection “so those with an excess or non-recyclables will be paying more, but we will proceed if necessary by regulation,” he added.

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