"Plastic Bags Levy Enforcement
to be Stepped Up" - Roche

February 2006

Fianna Fáil County Councillor, Cormac Devlin has welcomed Minister Dick Roche's comments in relation to stepping up the enforcement of the successful Plastic Bag Levy."The levy scheme has helped immensely in the fight against plastic bag pollution across the country. I welcome the comments by Minister Roche in relation to the enforcement of this levy" concluded Councillor Devlin:

"Packaging waste recycling is an Irish environmental success story", so said Environment, Heritage and Local Government Minister, Mr. Dick Roche, T.D. when he published Regulations setting new targets for the recovery and recycling of this important waste stream. 

"Ireland had a target of 25% for the recovery of packaging waste in 2001 and we met it.  Our target for 2005 was 50% and the recent National Waste Report 2004 from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) shows that we exceeded that target a year ahead of schedule.  Now we have a new target for 2011, 60%, and I am convinced that if we continue to work hard and build on the partnership approach - involving Repak, industry, local authorities and waste operators - that has served us so well to date, this success story can continue".

Under Directive 2004/12/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council amending the original Directive 94/62/EC on packaging and packaging waste, new overall increased packaging waste recovery targets of 60% (with 55% by way of recycling) have been established.  There are also new materials specific targets set by the amending Directive which will prove particularly challenging for Ireland.

The draft Regulations, giving effect to the requirements of the new Directive, have now been approved by the Minister and will, as required by EU rules, be lodged with the European Commission for a period of 90 days, following which they will come into force. Once the regulations are made by the Minister this will fully transpose the amended packaging Directive into Irish law.

"This is just one element, albeit an important one, in improving the regime for packaging waste recovery in Ireland", continued the Minister.  "A National Strategy Group on Packaging Waste Recycling - co-chaired by my Department and Repak and involving the key public and private sector stakeholders - was established in October 2004 to develop a strategy to achieve the 2011 packaging waste recovery / recycling targets.  Consultations with stakeholders on further proposed changes are continuing to the packaging waste regulatory regime and when they are concluded, I will consider bringing forward further changes to the Packaging Regulations later this year."

The Directive amends the definition of packaging and includes some examples to illustrate the amendments being made, including clarification that plastic or paper carrier bags are packaging under the terms of the Directive.  Since its inception on 14 March 2002 the plastic bags levy has brought in revenues totaling €55m to the Environment Fund, monies which are used to fund environmental projects such as "bring banks" and new civic amenity sites which are proving immensely popular with the public and are contributing to our much improved recycling performance", the Minister said.

Minister Roche went on to say that he was anxious that the plastic bag regulations are rigorously enforced. "From representations I have received there would appear to be some anecdotal evidence of slippage in application of the levy.    I have asked my Department to write to local authorities asking them to carry out inspections of retail outlets with a view to improving current practices in relation to the implementation of the Plastic Bag Levy Regulations".  The inspections are to be carried out as part of the local authorities' Action Plans for 2006. An enforcement network of local authority officers has been established to monitor and co-ordinate the enforcement drive.

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Cllr. Cormac Devlin, "Saint Michaels", Glenageary Avenue, Dún Laoghaire, Co. Dublin
Telephone: +353 (1) 275 0786 Email cormacdevlin@ireland.com
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Minister Dick Roche TD