Environment Minister Denis Naughten has urged opposition parties to fully support the Government’s pay-by-weight bin charges reforms after claiming some people are using the existing system to put “dead animals” in recycling bins.
The unaligned Independent TD made the comment as Taoiseach Leo Varadkar separately said he is willing to give people money back in return for handing in used plastic bottles and containers in a bid to tackle Ireland’s waste problems.
Speaking during a Seanad debate on the bin charges changes, Mr Naughten said it would be “inexcusable” for politicians to sit back and do nothing.
While admitting “I do not have all the answers”, Mr Naughten said the existing flat fee system is not convincing all households to recycle.
Mr Naughten said the reality is “dead animals are being thrown into recycling bins” and that Ireland cannot “continue to tolerate that”.
The comment came during a debate in which Mr Naughten was repeatedly criticised by Sinn Féin senators — whose party held a number of protests at local authorities across the country yesterday — over the pay-by-weight changes.
Despite the fact the Dáil backed plans for a pricing watchdog to oversee the changes on Tuesday, Sinn Féin senator Rose Conway Walsh said more transparency is needed as “nobody knows where the buck stops”.
Meanwhile, during a Dáil leaders’ questions debate on the same issue yesterday, Mr Varadkar said he would be open to giving people financial incentives for returning used plastic bottles and other environmental hazards.
Responding to Green Party leader Eamon Ryan, Mr Varadkar said he wants to make it “easier for people to do the right thing or do the right choices” to protect the environment.
Mr Ryan had forced Mr Varadkar into the response after disrupting the Dáil by producing a number of items, including an empty bottle of water, a plastic sandwich container, a used coffee cup, and some plastic food packaging.
“We are drowning in plastic,” Mr Ryan said after being cautioned for bringing the items into the chamber.
Mr Ryan suggested that a deposit scheme on plastic bottles be introduced which would see around 10c back on every bottle that is returned for recycling, adding that, in countries where such systems exist, recycling levels have risen by 90%.
Meanwhile, Mr Naughten last night took the rare step of attending the Fine Gael parliamentary party to outline the new pay-by-weight bin charge and pricing watchdog plans.
The unusual move by the former Fine Gael TD, six years to the day since he was kicked out of the party, was requested by Mr Varadkar after significant discontent was raised Fine Gael back-benchers over the level of access they had to ministers during Enda Kenny’s tenure.
As part of this new arrangement, Independent Alliance junior minister John Halligan is also expected to come before an internal Fine Gael committee on Wednesday to discuss school buses.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved