National and EU initiatives on plastics and waste may affect many small businesses

Members may be aware of the Green Party’s Waste Reduction Bill, which was launched by Eamon Ryan on 15 June and has received some media attention.

The two principal aims of the Bill are: 

1. Ban non-compostable disposable tableware (single use plastic cutlery, cups, straws etc.) from 1 January 2020.

Who could this affect?

All plastic cutlery in pre-prepared foods; straws supplied with beverage containers; manufacturers and distributors of plastic cups, containers, single use coffee cups and cutlery; food outlets/retailers that supply disposable cutlery for free as well as coffee shops/ retailers/ petrol stations etc. that sell take away beverages. 

2. Introduce a deposit and return scheme for sealed containers in which beverages are sold by 1 July 2019.

Who could this affect?

The Green Party have left it to the Minister to decide what is to be included but it most likely would be all cold beverage plastic and glass containers for soft drinks and alcohol but may include milk containers and metal beverage cans.

Political positions

The Labour Party has indicated that it will support the Bill.

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Denis Naughten TD, has, however, rejected the proposed deposit and return scheme, saying on Morning Ireland: “… we have very high recycling rates in relation to bottles and plastic bottles in this country, somewhere up over 80%. In a country where you don’t have very high recycling rates a proposal, such as the Green Party’s proposal would and should be considered. But we’ve looked at this, there’s a report on our website that details our reasoning why that, at this point in time, the cost involved would outweigh the benefit in relation to it. And it makes far more sense to invest in trying to deal the residual 20% than setting up a completely new regime, to collect bottles and plastic that are already being collected.”

EU developments

These developments coincide with related initiatives at EU level. As part of the EU Circular Economy Package, the Commission are developing a Strategy on Plastics (see roadmap here). This will concern any member who makes plastic, makes a product that contains plastic or in the case of food/ drink/ health and beauty products etc. plastic is used as the packaging for the product. The Commission will launch a Strategy on Plastics in Q4 this year.

Opportunity to input

The SFA is working with colleagues in Ibec and Green Business to ensure that the realities facing businesses are a central part of the debates on these issues.

Any members that would be impacted are invited to contact Linda Barry, SFA Acting Director, on 01 6051626 or to share their perspective or indicate that they would like to be kept informed as the national and EU debates evolve. 

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National and EU initiatives on plastics and waste may affect many small businesses
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