Cork County Council bosses have said they won't pay for the setting up of 'reverse vending machines,' despite calls from many county councillors for them to do so.
Cllr Audrey Buckley won cross-party support when she asked the local authority “to lead by example” and provide the machines which would pay people a small amount of money to deposit plastic bottles in special receptacles for recycling.
“These machines have proven their capability to help with our mounting plastic waste problems. 'Recycle and Reward' initiatives are helping communities in our war against plastic,” Cllr Buckley said.
“It's something we have to do. We need to lead by example,” she added.
Cllr Danny Collins pointed out that one brought in by SuperValu in Co Monaghan had been a great success. “You'd get more children collecting these things if they knew they were getting something back,” he said. Cllr Seamus McGrath said that many years ago there were deposit and refund schemes which ran extremely well and 30 years ago there were a lot of these schemes.
“As a country we are so far behind. In Norway they have a 97% recycling rate,” Cllr Danielle Twomey said. Cllr Gearoid Murphy pointed out that he lived in Germany for two years where there is a widespread national programme for getting money to return plastic bottles.
“It's virtually impossible to find a plastic bottle on the streets. People are picking them up because they are making money out of them. The council should write to the minister for the environment seeking support for this to become mandatory,” he said.
Cllr Liam Quaide said these machines had proven their worth in many other countries and Cllr John O'Sullivan said they were “a no-brainer when it comes to taking waste off the street.” However, he said that if the cash-strapped council funded it money would have to be taken away from other services it provides.
“We should write to the department and seek a national scheme be put in place,” Cllr O'Sullivan added.
Council chief executive, Tim Lucey, maintained the council shouldn't be putting taxpayers' money into such a scheme.
“At the end of the day the commercial world is producing these goods. It [such a scheme] should therefore be funded by the commercial sector,” Mr Lucey said.
Mayor of County Cork, Cllr Christopher O'Sullivan, said the council would write to the Minister for the Environment seeking a national roll-out of such machines and agreed with Cllr Seamus McGrath to debate the issue further at the council's environment special purposes committee.
Cllr James O'Connor suggested that the council investigate if there may be grant-aid available to set up such a scheme through the European Horizon Programme.