Local authorities are aiming to recycle 60% of all packaging waste by 2011, it was revealed today.
Under an EU directive, new targets have been set for recovering waste that could otherwise end up in landfill.
“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,” Minister for the Environment Dick Roche said.
“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.”
The regulations setting new targets for the recovery and recycling of packaging amend the original directive on waste.
The draft regulations will be lodged with the European Commission for 90 days before coming into force in Ireland.
“This is just one element, albeit an important one, in improving the regime for packaging waste recovery in Ireland,” Mr Roche said.
A National Strategy Group on Packaging Waste Recycling, co-chaired by the Department of the Environment and public and private-sector stakeholders, was established in October 2004 to develop a strategy to achieve the 2011 recycling targets.
“Consultations with stakeholders on further proposed changes to the packaging waste regulatory regime are continuing and when they are concluded I will consider bringing forward further changes to the Packaging Regulations later this year,” he said.
The directive includes plastic or paper carrier bags as waste packaging under the new terms.
Mr Roche said he was anxious that the plastic bag regulations were rigorously enforced.
The plastic bags levy, which came into place on March 14, 2002, has brought in revenues amounting to €55m to the Environment Fund, which is used to fund projects including Bring Banks to promote recycling.
“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,” he said.
A network of local authority officers has been established to monitor and co-ordinate an enforcement drive, with inspections due to be carried out throughout the year.