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Ban on some single-use plastic and levy on disposable cups: The government's plan to tackle waste

The five-year plan aims to “place Ireland at the vanguard of EU efforts”.

Image: Shutterstock/siam.pukkato

THE GOVERNMENT PLANS to ban some single-use plastics and place a levy on disposable cups as part of its “ambitious” plan to tackle waste over the next five years. 

Details of Ireland’s National Waste Policy 2020-2025 were released today by the Minister for Climate Action and Environment Eamon Ryan. 

The plan includes aims to halve food waste by 2030, introduce a deposit and return scheme for plastic bottles and aluminium cans, place a levy on disposable cups and ban certain single-use plastics from July 2021. 

Minister Ryan said: “We all know that our current model of production and consumption is unsustainable in terms of resource use, waste disposal, climate change and loss of biodiversity.

“What we need to do is rethink our relationship with our stuff – how we produce it, use it and dispose of it.”

The 2021 ban on single-use plastics will include cotton bud sticks, cutlery, plates, chopsticks and polystyrene containers. 

Last November, the government announced the possible introduction of a levy of up to 25 cent on disposable cups.

Former Climate Action Minister, Richard Bruton, said at the time that the levy “has clear benefits for the environment, when you consider that 22,000 disposable coffee and tea cups are used every hour”. 

The five-year plan announced today said a total elimination of coffee cups will be trialed in some towns, third-level institutions and transport/commercial centres.

Measures to ban unnecessary use of disposable cups, such as in sit-in cafes, will also be introduced.

Retailers will also be obliged to give a price reduction to consumers who use reusable cups. This will eventually lead to a full ban on disposable cups. 

The plan also wants to ensure all packaging is either reusable or recyclable by 2030. 

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The Department of Climate Action and Environment said the plan will “place Ireland at the vanguard of EU efforts”. 

It further aims to shift the focus away from waste disposal and treatment and instead ensure materials and products are used for longer. 

Companies who make and sell disposable products will be “environmentally accountable” for the products, the plan says.  

For households and businesses, there will be recycling targets for waste collectors and standardised bin colours set across the country – green for recycling, brown for compost and black for general waste.  

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