Dáil backs bill banning non-recyclable plastic cutlery by 2020

Opposition plans to ban non-recyclable plastic cutlery by 2020 and pay people to hand in plastic bottles have been backed by the Dáil — despite government concerns the €276m annual extra cost will create another PPARS.

The Greens’ bill was supported by Fianna Fáil, Labour, Sinn Féin, the Social Democrats and Independent opposition groups last night amid growing concerns about the impact of surging waste piles on the Irish and international environment.

While the Government did not to oppose the bill, Environment Minister Denis Naughten has insisted the proposed law now undergoes pre-legislative scrutiny over where money needed to pay for the plan can be found.

Explaining his stance, he last night told the Dáil: “Without a complete understanding of the cost implications on the taxpayer, on employers, on retailers and on customers it would be financially reckless of me to proceed with its introduction here without proper scrutiny.

“I will not create another PPARS or another e-voting machine fiasco.”

In a bill heard under Labour private motion time last night in order to ensure the issue is voted on this week before the Dáil’s summer break, the Greens said drastic action is now needed to address Ireland’s growing environmental issues.

Specifically, the bill — which will be formally voted on tomorrow — is seeking to ban the legal use of non-recyclable plastic cutlery here by the end of the decade.

It is also recommending a 10c payment to anyone who hands in an empty plastic bottle for recycling instead of throwing it away or putting it in general waste bins, a move that would cost an estimated €276m every year.

Speaking to reporters , Greens leader Eamon Ryan said the move is vital to safeguard the environment.

“What’s that phrase, a minute on the lips and a lifetime on the lips? Well, this [plastic cutlery] is a minute on the lips and about six or seven lifetimes before it bio-degrades.

“This isn’t a kick-the-Government motion,” he said.

Mr Naughten last night said he accepted the reasons for the bill and supported the theory, but has concerns about the €276m annual cost of the plastic bottles hand-in incentivisation plan.

The Government will seek an amendment to the bill tomorrow which will ensure pre-legislative scrutiny of its exact costs and how it can be funded when the Dáil returns in September.

Mr Naughten said last night the bill provides no explanation on whether taxpayers or industries should pay the extra costs, and how this can be achieved.


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